This study reviews published information on Mugil cephalus from around the world, with recent genetic studies indicating that the flathead mullet may indeed be a species complex. Disciplines that are covered range from the taxonomy, genetics and systematics, through a variety of biological and ecological attributes, to biomarker and fisheries studies. The eurytopic nature of M. cephalus is emphasized, with the migratory life history covering a succession of very different aquatic environments (e.g. rivers, estuaries, coastal lakes/lagoons, marine littoral, open ocean), each of which is occupied for varying lengths of time, depending on the population characteristics within a region and the life-history stage of the species. Interpretation of these movements over time has been greatly enhanced by the use of otolith micro-chemistry which has enabled scientists to map out the different habitats occupied by individual fish at the different life stages. The range of physico-chemical attributes within these environments necessitates a wide tolerance to differing conditions, especially with regard to salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and temperature, all of which are discussed in this review. The importance of M. cephalus to the ecological functioning of coastal systems is emphasized, as well as the pivotal role that this species fulfills in fisheries in some parts of the world. The parasites range from internal trematode and cestode infestations, to external branchyuran and copepod parasites, which use M. cephalus as either an intermediate or final host. The value of the flathead mullet as a biomarker for the monitoring of the health of coastal habitats is discussed, as well as its potential as an indicator or sentinel species for certain ecosystems.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 27, 2012
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