MEPS 529:249-263 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11277

Maternal size, not age, influences egg quality of a wild, protogynous coral reef fish Plectropomus leopardus

Alex B. Carter1,2,3,4,*, Alexander G. Carton1,2,3, Mark I. McCormick3,5, Andrew J. Tobin1,2, Ashley J. Williams1,2,6

1Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2College of Science, Technology and Engineering,
3College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, 4Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Research, and 5ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
6Secretariat of the Pacific Community, BPD5-98848, Noumea, New Caledonia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Maternal effects are widely known to influence early life-history traits of offspring, including egg and larval quality. We studied the relationships between maternal length, weight, age and hepatosomatic index, with indicators of egg quality (egg size, oil droplet size, total lipid content and lipid classes) of a wild, protogynous reef fish, the common coral trout Plectropomus leopardus. Of the egg wet weight, 3% was lipids, with the neutral lipids, triacylglycerol (34% of total lipids) and wax esters (40%), being the main source of lipid energy within the egg. Polar lipids comprised 24% of total lipid content. Egg size and oil droplet size increased positively with maternal weight, and egg size increased positively with maternal length (p < 0.05). None of the variation in total lipid or triacylglycerol content was explained by the maternal traits we examined, but the proportion of long-term storage lipid wax esters increased with maternal length and weight (p < 0.05). Maternal age had no effect on any indicators of egg quality. Hepatosomatic index influenced sterols, although only with fish weight (p < 0.01). Our study highlights the variability in egg characteristics of a protogynous fish in the wild, and provides a greater understanding of variation in maternal traits as indicators of egg quality for teleost fishes. Our results suggest that offspring from larger females may have an advantage during the critical transition to successful exogenous feeding through enhanced provisioning, and that size-truncation through fishing may have negative consequences for recruitment and replenishment of P. leopardus populations.


KEY WORDS: Egg size · Great Barrier Reef · Lipid · Maternal effect · Reproduction · Serranidae


Full text in pdf format 
Cite this article as: Carter AB, Carton AG, McCormick MI, Tobin AJ, Williams AJ (2015) Maternal size, not age, influences egg quality of a wild, protogynous coral reef fish Plectropomus leopardus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 529:249-263. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11277

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -