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Aquatic Biology

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AB 21:127-142 (2014)  -  DOI:

Depth interactions and reproductive ecology of sympatric Sillaginidae: Sillago robusta and S. flindersi

Charles A. Gray1,2,3,*, Lachlan M. Barnes1,4, Dylan E. van der Meulen1,5, Benjamin W. Kendall1,6, Faith A. Ochwada-Doyle1,7, William D. Robbins1,8

1NSW Primary Industries, Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre, Cronulla, NSW 2230, Australia Present addresses: 2WildFish Research, Grays Point, Sydney, NSW 2232, Australia
3University of New South Wales, Randwick, NSW 2052, Australia
4Cardno, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia
5Batemans Bay Fisheries Centre, NSW 2536, Australia
6Seglaregatan, Gothenburg 41457, Sweden
7Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia
8Wildlife Marine, Sorrento, Perth, WA 6020, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This study examined whether differences existed in the depth distributions and reproductive strategies of the co-occurring Sillago robusta and S. flindersi in coastal waters off eastern Australia. Marked spatial and temporal dissimilarities in demography and reproduction were observed between the 2 species, with S. robusta being more abundant in the shallow (15-30 m) strata and S. flindersi in the mid (31-60 m) strata, with neither species being consistently abundant in the deep (61-90 m) strata. The size composition of S. robusta was similar across depths, but smaller and immature S. flindersi predominantly occurred in the shallow strata, with larger and mature individuals occurring deeper. These data indicate partitioning of habitat resources, which may aid species coexistence. Both species potentially spawned year-round, which is probably an adaptation to the region’s dynamic coastal environment. However, a greater proportion of S. robusta was in spawning condition between September and March, whereas S. flindersi displayed no such temporal pattern. Maturity ogives differed significantly between sexes and locations for both species. Both species displayed similar ovarian development, with females having multiple concurrent oocyte stages, indicating potential multiple spawning events as evidenced in other Sillaginidae. For both species, estimated batch fecundity increased with fish length, but S. robusta had a greater fecundity at any given length than S. flindersi. In contrast, S. flindersi potentially produced larger-sized eggs and invested greater energy into gonad development than S. robusta, indicating the 2 species have evolved slightly different reproductive strategies. Despite this, both species are subjected to substantial trawl fisheries, which may have already impacted their reproductive ecologies.

KEY WORDS: Life history · Habitat partitioning · Population structure · Reproduction · Maturity · Spawning · Fishery exploitation

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Cite this article as: Gray CA, Barnes LM, van der Meulen DE, Kendall BW, Ochwada-Doyle FA, Robbins WD (2014) Depth interactions and reproductive ecology of sympatric Sillaginidae: Sillago robusta and S. flindersi. Aquat Biol 21:127-142.

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