The reproductive biology and fecundity of female Atlantic Menhaden
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The reproductive biology and fecundity of female Atlantic Menhaden

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  • Journal Title:
    Marine and Coastal Fisheries
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    ObjectiveAtlantic Menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus support fisheries that yield the largest landings by volume on the U.S. East Coast and fulfill a critical ecological role as a forage species. The spawning reference point of the stock assessment model that is routinely applied to this species requires information on total annual fecundity. The goal of this study was to generate a contemporary, histology‐based evaluation of the reproductive biology and fecundity of female Atlantic Menhaden.MethodsFemale Atlantic Menhaden (n = 559) were collected between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, from 2013 to 2019. Ovarian tissues were prepared using standard histological techniques which, when coupled with oocyte size‐frequency and count data, were used to classify reproductive mode and estimate batch fecundity, spawning frequency, and maturity. Monthly gonosomatic indices were combined with published female reproductive information and spatiotemporal patterns in larval and juvenile abundance to designate spawning seasonality.ResultHistological preparations and oocyte size‐frequency patterns of female Atlantic Menhaden ovaries were consistent with indeterminate batch spawning. Batch fecundity increased with fork length, while spawning seasonality extended from September 15 to April 15 with a spawn every 7.5 ± 2.3 days. Female maturity probabilities transitioned from 0.2 to 0.8 over fork lengths of 214.8–226.5 mm (approximately ages 2.0–2.3 years). Estimated mean per capita female annual fecundity varied from 465,757 to 3,250,135 oocytes for fish ranging from 215.8 to 284.8 mm fork length (ages 2–6 years), which represented a 614–2267% (mean = 1656%) increase in annual female reproductive output relative to previous estimates.ConclusionFemale Atlantic Menhaden exhibit indeterminant batch spawning while spawning seasonality and mean per capita female annual fecundity were appreciably greater than previously reported. This new reproductive information illuminates the robust reproductive productivity of this species and will aid routinely conducted stock assessments.
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    Marine and Coastal Fisheries, 15(5)
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    CC BY
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