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Predictions of realised fecundity and spawning time in Norwegian spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus)
Óskarsson, G.J.; Kjesbu, O.S.; Slotte, A. (2002). Predictions of realised fecundity and spawning time in Norwegian spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus). J. Sea Res. 48(1): 59-79. dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1385-1101(02)00135-1
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Atresia; Fecundity; Herrings; Herrings; Oocytes; Spawning; Clupea harengus Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; ANE, Norway [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Óskarsson, G.J.
  • Kjesbu, O.S.
  • Slotte, A.

Abstract
    Maturing Norwegian spring-spawning (NSS) herring, Clupea harengus, were collected for reproductive analyses along the Norwegian coast prior to the spawning seasons of 1997-2000. Over this time period there was a marked change in weight (W) at length (TL) with 1998 showing extremely low values and 2000 high values in a historical perspective. Potential fecundity, amounting to about 20,000-100,000 developing (vitellogenic) oocytes per fish and positively related to fish size, increased significantly with fish condition. Relative somatic potential fecundity (RFP, number of oocytes per g ovary-free body weight) in NSS herring was found to vary by 35-55% between years. Unexpectedly, females in 2000 showed low RFP-values, possibly due to negative feedback from previous reproductive investments at low condition. A clear threshold value for Fulton's condition factor, K (K=100×W/TL³), of 0.65-0.70 existed below which there was considerable atresia (resorption of vitellogenic oocytes). Thus, these components of the spawning stock, amounting to 1-46% in the period 1980-1999, obviously contributed relatively little to the total egg production. This was confirmed by low ovary weights and examples of delayed oocyte development in these individuals. An up-to-date atresia model is presented. The established oocyte growth curve, and to a lesser degree the assumed atretic oocytic turnover rate, was critical for the estimation of realised fecundity (number of eggs spawned). Modelled realised fecundity was significantly below observed potential fecundity. Females that had migrated the shortest distance from the over-wintering area, Vestfjorden, northern Norway, were in the poorest condition, had the least developed oocytes and the lowest potential and realised fecundities. In agreement with previously published studies on temporal and spatial changes in gonad weights, those females reaching the main spawning grounds in the south-western part of the coast (Møre) were the most successful ones in terms of egg production. Likewise, present results on oocyte diameter confirmed that repeat spawners spawn first and recruit spawners second. Our histological analyses on oocyte microstructure provided further evidence that oocyte size is a precise and accurate maturation criterion in herring. The methodological examinations also showed that the level of atresia as well as potential fecundity from oocyte and ovarian size can be estimated by the binocular microscope. This study shows that there is a large range in size- and condition-specific egg production in NSS herring, which should be taken into account in further recruitment studies.

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