MEPS 246:265-277 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps246265

An age-based demographic analysis of the Caribbean stoplight parrotfish Sparisoma viride

J. H. Choat1,*, D. R. Robertson2, J. L. Ackerman1, J. M. Posada3

1School of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Townsville 4811, Australia
2Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panamá), STRI, Unit 0948, APO, AA 34002-0948, USA
3Dept. Biología de Organismos, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Apartado 89000, Caracas 1080-A, Venezuela

ABSTRACT: The parrotfish Sparisoma viride is an abundant and ecologically important member of the tropical NW Atlantic reef fish fauna. Sagittal otoliths of 417 individuals were analysed to estimate age-based demographic variables at 4 localities (Lee Stocking Island, Barbados, Los Roques Archipelago and the San Blas Archipelago) spanning 14° of latitude. The sampling localities ranged from an area protected from trap- and net-based reef fisheries (Los Roques) to an area supporting a dense human population and sustained trapping and spearing for reef fishes including S. viride (Barbados). Examination of sectioned sagittal otoliths from each locality revealed regular increments in the sagittal matrix. A preliminary validation at San Blas was consistent with these increments being annual check marks. These increments provided estimates of age structure, maximum longevities and mortality rates for the 4 study populations of S. viride. Von Bertalanffy growth functions fitted to each size-at-age plot generated similar growth curves from 3 of these 4 localities. The exception was Lee Stocking, where fish grew faster and reached a substantially larger size than those from the other 3 localities. Further analysis of the growth curves demonstrated that the differences between Lee Stocking and the other localities were attributable to more rapid growth over the first 4 yr of life. Age-based growth curves derived from the Los Roques population were very similar to a size-based curve generated by an independent study on S. viride carried out in Bonaire, adjacent to Los Roques. Maximum longevities for all 4 of our populations varied from 7 to 9 yr. Mortality rates generated from catch curve analysis were also similar among localities and suggest that maximum life spans do not exceed 12 yr. This result differs from that obtained at Bonaire, where repeated censuses of tagged fish suggest 30 yr maximum longevity. Abundances of S. viride varied 3-fold among localities, being highest at Los Roques (protected from reef fishing), lowest at Barbados (high fishing) and Lee Stocking (low fishing). Thus our age-based study suggests that S. viride is a relatively short-lived fish with consistent demographic parameters over a range of localities, latitudes and fishing intensities.

KEY WORDS: Age-based demographic properties · Growth · Maximum age · Scarids · Otoliths · Validation · Von Bertalanffy parameters · Geographical variation · Fishing effects

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