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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 658:117-133 (2021)  -  DOI:

Seasonal, interannual and spatial variability in the reproductive dynamics of Penaeus merguiensis

Tonya D. van der Velde1,*, William N. Venables2, Peter J. Crocos3, Steven Edgar1, Fiona Evans4, Peter C. Rothlisberg1

1CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere, St Lucia, Queensland 4067, Australia
2CSIRO Data 61, Brisbane Queensland 4001, Australia
3Stanthorpe Queensland 4380, Australia
4Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Penaeid prawns (shrimp) are short-lived and fecund, with a complicated life cycle that includes offshore spawning followed by a coastal or estuarine postlarval and juvenile phase. Factors affecting survival during the early life-history stages, and during movement between these stages, will affect variability in recruitment to the nursery ground, the offshore subadult and adult population, and, ultimately, catch. The inability to predict recruitment, and ultimately commercial offshore catch, has been complicated by an incomplete understanding of these factors. The reproductive dynamics of Penaeus (Fenneropenaeus) merguiensis were investigated by simultaneous adult and larval sampling on 66 lunar-monthly surveys from March 1986 to March 1992 in Albatross Bay, northeastern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Egg production was seasonal, with the highest production from 6-mo-old newly recruited spawners, and another peak from 12mo-old spawners. Larval abundance (no. m-2) followed the same seasonal pattern as the abundance of eggs. However, interannual variation in egg and larval abundance was large, and there was a weak correlation between monthly egg and larval abundance. Larval abundance appeared to be further influenced by fluctuations in chlorophyll a concentration, a measure of food availability. There was evidence of a match/mismatch relationship between larval abundance and episodic chlorophyll increases. While there was no direct spawner (egg production)-fishery recruit relationship in P. merguiensis over the 6-yr study, there was a strong relationship between total larval abundance in spring and the size of the commercial catch 3 to 6 mo later. Therefore, factors affecting larval survival, including food availability, have significant implications for fishery production.

KEY WORDS: Penaeid shrimp · Egg production · Larval identification · Match/mismatch relationship · Chlorophyll · Fisheries management · Gulf of Carpentaria · Australia

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Cite this article as: van der Velde TD, Venables WN, Crocos PJ, Edgar S, Evans F, Rothlisberg PC (2021) Seasonal, interannual and spatial variability in the reproductive dynamics of Penaeus merguiensis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 658:117-133.

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