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Reproductive Biology of Hemiramphus brasiliensis and H. balao (Hemiramphidae): Maturation, Spawning Frequency, and Fecundity

Richard McBride and Paul E. Thurman
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 204, No. 1 (Feb., 2003), pp. 57-67
DOI: 10.2307/1543496
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1543496
Page Count: 11
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Reproductive Biology of Hemiramphus brasiliensis and H. balao (Hemiramphidae): Maturation, Spawning Frequency, and Fecundity
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Abstract

Analyses of life-history data show that both the size-specific batch fecundities and the age-specific spawning frequencies differ for two halfbeak species, Hemiramphus brasiliensis, the ballyhoo, and H. balao, the balao. Halfbeak ages were determined from sectioned otoliths; histological data was used to describe oocyte development and estimate spawning frequency; and batch fecundity was measured from counts of whole oocytes in final maturation. Hemiramphus brasiliensis lived longer (4 versus 2 years) and had a higher survival rate (14.9% versus 7.5% annually) than H. balao did. Of the two species the larger and longer-lived congener, H. brasiliensis, reached sexual maturity at a larger size (fork length 198 versus 160 mm). The spawning period of age-0 females was strongly related to season, whereas spawning by older females occurred throughout the year. Reproduction by both species peaked during late spring or early summer, and all mature females were spawning daily during April (H. brasiliensis) or June (H. balao). This is the first demonstration of iteroparity for the family Hemiramphidae. H. brasiliensis had a lower batch fecundity (about 1164 versus 3743 hydrated oocytes for a 100-g female) than H. balao did. Such low batch fecundities are typical of the order Beloniformes, but quite different from those of other fishes that live in association with coral reef habitats. H. balao's higher batch fecundity is consistent with the life-history theory that predicts higher numbers of eggs for shorter-lived species; this is possible because H. balao produces smaller hydrated oocytes than H. brasiliensis (modal diameter about 1.6 versus 2.4 mm). The high spawning frequency of Hemiramphus species compensates for their low batch fecundity. The annual fecundity of both species is similar to that of other reef fish species, after adjusting for body size and spawning frequency. The life-time fecundity of H. balao was very similar to that of H. brasiliensis, after accounting for the differences in survival for each species. This suggests a fine tuning of different reproductive traits over the entire life cycle that results in roughly equivalent lifetime fecundity for both species.

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