Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 February 2012
The squid Loligo vulgaris has an extended spawning season within the upwelling system off north-west Portugal, and its paralarvae may thus develop under a wide range of environmental conditions. Both temperature and salinity are expected to affect the metabolism of young squid and we tested their effects on growth during the embryonic and post-hatching phase, based on measurements of growth increments in statoliths of juveniles and adults, using generalized additive models. There was no evidence that statolith increments representing early growth become unreadable in adult statoliths. Variability in the statolith size at hatching was weakly but significantly related to the variables in the model. On the other hand, the effects on statolith growth of both sea surface temperature and of sea bottom temperature were significant during early post-hatching life. Thicker increments are deposited in the statoliths of squid living under higher temperatures, which results in summer hatchers having larger statoliths at the age of 90 days. Inspection of the statolith accretion pattern, using a piecewise linear regression method, revealed an ontogenetic shift in increment width, which may be an indication of the age of transition from paralarva to juvenile. On this basis, it is suggested that the planktonic stage lasts 60 or 90 days, depending on whether the paralarvae lived at higher (>15°C) or lower (<15°C) sea surface temperatures. The life strategy under warmer conditions potentially favours survival by reducing the duration of the vulnerable planktonic phase.