Timing and determination of potential fecundity in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Studies using annual averages of lipid storage or estimated quality of the feeding season have shown that energy reserves influence egg production in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). However, vitellogenesis starts months before spawning. Therefore, energy reserves near the start of vitellogenesis might provide better proxies of fecundity and hence egg production than yearly averages. If so, proxies with large temporal variations (e.g., weight and lipid energy) should vary similarly in their predictive power, and females with different spawning periods should have their fecundity determined at different times. We exposed cod to two photoperiods to induce different spawning seasons. Growth before spawning was monitored, and potential fecundity was measured at the onset of spawning. The date yielding the greatest explanatory power differed between photoperiods. As proxies, length varied less and had lower explanatory power than weight. Lipid energy at the onset of spawning was a poor proxy. The greatest explanatory power was found ~3–4 months before spawning around the start of vitellogenesis, indicating that potential fecundity was highly influenced by female energy reserves at this time. Determination of potential fecundity early in vitellogenesis may be a common feature for determinate teleost spawners.