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Seasonal foods, gonadal maturation, and length-weight relationships for nine fishes commonly captured by shrimp trawl on the northwest Gulf of Mexico continental shelf
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    Recent emphasis on ecosystem approaches to fisheries management renews interest in, and the need for, trophic information about fish communities. A program was started in1980 at the National Marine Fisheries Service Galveston Laboratory to develop a trophic database for continental shelf fishes. Collections were made during 1982-1983 that were processed but never published, yet the data remain valid today for historical purposes and for delimiting food web components within ecosystem assessments. I examined spring, summer, and fall foods in offshore populations of nine common species of trawl-susceptible fishes, with particular reference to predation on commercial penaeid shrimps (Farfantepenaeus and Litopenaeus). Diets were evaluated with the Index of Relative Importance (IRI) which combines the occurrence, number, and weight of each food item. Bank sea bass (Centropristis ocyurus) and bighead searobin (Prionotus tribulus) primarily consumed crabs, more so by larger than smaller fish. In shore lizardfish (Synodus foetens) was almost entirely piscivorous. Ocellated flounder (Ancylopsetta ommata) consumed fishes, crabs, and stomatopods. Dwarf sand perch (Diplectrum bivittatum), blackwing searobin (Prionotus rubio), rock sea bass (Centropristis philadelphica), southern kingfish (Menticirrhus americanus), and red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) fed mainly on shrimps. Most fish diets varied with respect to size (age), time of day, area sampled, depth, or season. Rimapenaeus and Sicyonia were the most frequently identified shrimp genera -only five Farfan tepenaeus and no Litopenaeus were identified in almost 4,300 fish stomachs. I also examined gonadal development and documented fish length-weight relationships. Ripe gonads were most frequently found during summer in dwarf sand perch, during fall in ocellated flounder and bighead searobin, and during spring for other species, except no ripe red snapper or bank sea bass were collected. Rock sea bass was found to be a protogynous hermaphrodite, while dwarf sand perch is asynchronous hermaphrodite. Only ocellated flounder and southern kingfish exhibited sex-related differences in length-weight relationships.
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