Age-based demography and reproductive biology of three Epinephelus groupers, E. polyphekadion, E. tauvina, and E. howlandi (Serranidae), inhabiting coral reefs in Okinawa

Ohta, Itaru; Akita, Yuichi; Uehara, Masato; Ebisawa, Akihiko
November 2017
Environmental Biology of Fishes;Nov2017, Vol. 100 Issue 11, p1451
Academic Journal
The demography and reproductive biology of three Epinephelus groupers (Serranidae), namely E. polyphekadion, E. tauvina, and E. howlandi in the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa, were examined based on age assessment using otoliths and gonadal histology. The maximum ages for these three species were 26 year, 23 year, and 17 year. The von Bertalanffy growth functions were also determined for each species. The size and age at 50% female maturity were estimated to be 358 mm in total length (TL) and 6.0 year for E. polyphekadion, 371 mm TL and 6.7 year for E. tauvina, and 327 mm TL and 4.1 year for E. howlandi, respectively. Significant differences between the sexes in size and age frequencies were found in all three species, with males being larger and older than females, or transitional individuals. These results strongly indicated that the population of these three grouper species showed monandric protogynous hermaphroditism. The sex ratios of E. polyphekadion and E. tauvina were biased in favor of females, but that of E. howlandi was equivalent between sexes. The relative sizes of ripe testes indicated that the intensity of sperm competition varied among species suggesting different mating system of each species. Reproductive seasonality was similar among species, with active vitellogenesis coinciding with the annual rise in water temperature. The active spawning period was determined to be between April and May for E polyphekadion, in May for E. howlandi, and from March to June for E. tauvina.


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