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Comparisons between the reproductive biology of black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri (Teleostei: Sparidae) in four estuaries with widely differing characteristics

Sarre, G.A. and Potter, I.C. (1999) Comparisons between the reproductive biology of black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri (Teleostei: Sparidae) in four estuaries with widely differing characteristics. International Journal of Salt Lake Research, 8 (3). pp. 179-210.

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The reproductive biology of Acanthopagrus butcheri has been studied in the permanently open Swan River and intermittently open Moore River estuaries on the lower west coast of Australia (31-32 °S) and in the permanently open Nornalup Walpole and normally closed Wellstead estuaries on the southern coast of Western Australia (34-35 °S). Trends exhibited by gonadosomatic indices, gonadal maturity stages and the sizes and developmental stages of the oocytes demonstrate that A. butcheri typically spawns in spring and early summer. However, spawning occurred in salinities ranging from as low as 3.5-8 g L-1 in the Moore River Estuary to as high as 41-45 g L-1 in the Wellstead Estuary. Furthermore, water temperatures during spawning were greater in the two northern estuaries (19.7-28.5 °C) than in the two southern and cooler estuaries (17.5-23.4 °C). Histological studies strongly indicate that A. butcheri spawn more than once in a breeding season and demonstrate that the development of its oocytes exhibits group synchrony sensu de Vlaming (1983). The ages and total lengths at which, on average, female and male A. butcheri both first attain maturity in the Swan River Estuary were ca 2 years and ca 215 mm. However, the age at which individual fish in that system reach maturity was influenced by body size. This suggests that the attainment of first maturity at an older age but smaller length in the Moore River and Nornalup Walpole estuaries than is the case in the Swan River Estuary is a consequence of the slower growth rates of A. butcheri in those estuaries. The combination of the young age (ca 2 years) but small length (ca 145 mm) at which maturity is first attained in the Wellstead Estuary could have resulted from selection pressures brought about by high mortality rates and/or heavy fishing pressure in this estuary. The mean fecundity of A. butcheri, based on the combined number of yolk vesicle and yolk granule oocytes found in ovaries just prior to the onset of spawning, was 1580 x 103. The significance of the sizes at first maturity, minimum legal length for capture, mesh selectivity data and closure of certain regions of estuaries to fishing for the management of the recreational and commercial fishery for A. butcheri is discussed.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
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