Ontogenetic allometry of body shape in Serrasalmus brandti (Lütken, 1875) (Characiformes: Serrasalmidae)

  • Mauro José Cavalcanti Ecoinformatics Studio http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2389-1902
  • Jailza Tavares de Oliveira-Silva Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
  • Paulo Roberto Duarte Lopes Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana


The ontogenetic body shape changes in the white piranha, Serrasalmus brandti, were analyzed with geometric morphometrics techniques. The Cartesian coordinates of 16 anatomical landmarks were obtained from the external morphology of 133 specimens collected in 11 localities along the São Francisco River basin. The Procrustes-aligned landmark coordinates were used to construct shape variables. A multivariate regression of the shape variables on centroid size was determined to test the hypothesis of significant shape changes along ontogeny. The analysis showed statistically significant differences in shape with size (Goodall’s generalized test F[28, 3668] =  2.0175, p = 0.001), indicating that body shape in this species is not ontogenetically stable. Most of the ontogenetic shape changed observed in S. brandti occur in the anterior region of the body, and can be described by an increase in head length and a decrease in body depth in the larger specimens.

Biografia do Autor

Jailza Tavares de Oliveira-Silva, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
Departamento de Ciências Biológicas (Museu de Zoologia - Divisão de Peixes)
Paulo Roberto Duarte Lopes, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
Departamento de Ciências Biológicas (Museu de Zoologia - Divisão de Peixes)


Adams, D.C., Rohlf, F.J. & Slice, D.E. (2004). Geometric morphometrics: ten years of progress following the ‘revolution’. Italian Journal of Zoology 71: 5-16.

Bookstein, F.L. (1991). Morphometric tools for landmark data. Geometry and biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Britski, H.A, Sato, Y. & Rosa, A.B.S. (1988). Manual de identificação de peixes da região de Três Marias: com chaves de identificação para os peixes da Bacia do São Francisco. 3ª. ed. Brasília: Câmara dos Deputados, Coordenação de Publicações - CODEVASF, Divisão de Piscicultura e Pesca.

Fink, W.L. (1993). Revision of the piranha genus Pygocentrus (Teleostei, Characiformes). Copeia 1993: 665-687.

Frederich, B. & Sheets, H. (2010). Evolution of ontogenetic allometry shaping giant species: a case study from the damselfish genus Dascyllus (Pomacentridae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 99: 99-117

Freeman, B., Nico, L.G., Osentoski, M., Jelks, H.L. & Collins, T.M. (2007). Molecular systematics of Serrasalmidae: Deciphering the identities of piranha species and unraveling their evolutionary histories. Zootaxa 1484: 1-38.

Goodall, C.R. (1991). Procrustes methods in the statistical analysis of shape. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B 53: 285-339.

Grubich, J.R., Huskey, S., Crofts, S., Orti, G. & Porto, J. (2012). Mega-Bites: Extreme jaw forces of living and extinct piranhas (Serrasalmidae). Nature Scientific Reports 2: 1009.

Hood, C.S. & Heins, D.C. (2000). Ontogeny and allometry of body shape in the Blacktail shiner, Cyprinella venusta. Copeia 2000: 270-275

Jégu, M. (2003). Serrasalminae (Pacus and piranhas). In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander & C.J. Ferraris (Eds.), Checklist of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. (pp. 182-196), Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS.

Loy, A., Mariani, L., Bertelletti, M. & Tunesi, L. (1998). Visualizing allometry: geometric morphometrics in the study of shape changes in the early stages of the two-banded sea bream, Diplodus vulgaris (Perciformes, Sparidae). Journal of Morphology 237: 137-146.

Machado-Allison, A. & Garcia, C. (1986). Food habits and morphological changes during ontogeny in three serrasalmin fish species of the Venezuelan floodplains. Copeia 1986: 193-195.

Monteiro, L.R. (1999). Multivariate regression models and geometric morphometrics: the search for causal factors in the analysis of shape. Systematic Biology 48:192-199.

Nelson, J.S. (2006). Fishes of the world. 4th ed. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Nico, L.G. & Taphorn, D.C. (1988). Food habits of piranhas in the low llanos of Venezuela. Biotropica 20: 311-321.

Orti, G., Sivasundar, A., Dietz, K. & Jégu, M. (2008). Phylogeny of the Serrasalmidae (Characiformes) based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Genetics and Molecular Biology 31: 343-351.

Pompeu, P.S. (1999). Dieta da pirambeba Serrasalmus brandtii Reinhardt (Teleostei, Characidae) em quatro lagoas marginais do rio São Francisco, Brasil. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 16: 19-26.

Reis, R.E., Zelditch, M.L. & Fink, W.L. (1998). Ontogenetic allometry of body shape in the Neotropical catfish Callichthys (Teleostei: Siluriformes). Copeia 1998: 177-182.

Rodrıguez-Mendoza, R.R., Munoz, M. & Saborido-Rey, F. (2011). Ontogenetic allometry of the bluemouth, Helicolenus dactylopterus dactylopterus (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae), in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean based on geometric morphometrics. Hydrobiologia 670: 5-22.

Rohlf, F.J. (1998). On applications of geometric morphometrics to studies of ontogeny and phylogeny. Systematic Biology 47: 147-158.

Rohlf, F.J. (2015). The tps series of software. Hystrix 26: 9-12.

Sazima, I. & Machado, F.A. (1990). Underwater observations of piranhas in western Brazil. Environmental Biology of Fishes 28: 17-31.

Sazima, I. & Zamprogno, C. (1985). Use of water hyacinths as shelter, foraging place, and transport by young piranhas, Serrasalmus spilopleura. Environmental Biology of Fishes 12: 237-240.

Sidlauskas, B.L., Mol. J.H. & Vari, R.P. (2011). Dealing with allometry in linear and geometric morphometrics: a taxonomic case study in the Leporinus cylindriformis group (Characiformes: Anostomidae) with description of a new species from Suriname. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 162: 103-130

Walker, J.A. (1993). Ontogenetic allometry of three-spine stickleback body form using landmark-based morphometrics. In: L.F. Marcus, E. Bello & A. García-Valdecasas. (Eds.), Contributions to morphometrics (pp. 193-212), Madrid: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales.

Vergara-Solana, F., Garcia-Rodriguez, F. & Cruz-Aguero, J. (2013). Interspecific comparison of growth and shape within Diapterus (Gerreidae: Perciformes) using geometric morphometrics. Journal of Ichthyology 53: 445-454.

Zelditch, M.L. & Fink, W.L. (1995). Allometry and developmental integration of body growth in a piranha, Pygocentrus nattereri (Teleostei, Ostariophysi). Journal of Morphology 223: 341-335.