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Maturation and fecundity of a stock‐enhanced population of striped bass in the Savannah River Estuary, U.S.A

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Abstract:

The striped bass Morone saxatilis population in the Savannah River (south‐eastern U.S.A.) collapsed in the 1980s, and recent eorts to restore the population have resulted in increased catch‐per‐unit‐eort (CPUE) of striped bass in the Savannah River Estuary (SRE). The abundance of eggs and larvae, however, remain well below historic levels. The primary cause of the population decline was remedied, and environmental conditions seem suitable for striped bass spawning. Regression analysis of data derived from ultrasonic imaging of 31 striped bass resulted in a statistical model that predicted ovary volume well (r2=0.95). The enumeration of oocytes from ovarian tissue samples and the prediction of ovary volume allowed fecundity to be estimated without sacrificing the fish. Oocyte maturation in Savannah River striped bass seemed to progress normally, with oocytes developing to final stages of maturity in larger fish (>750 mm L T). Additionally, fecundity estimates were comparable to a neighbouring striped bass population. The environmental cues needed to trigger development and release of striped bass oocytes into the SRE appeared to be present. If most of the striped bass females in the SRE are still young (<7 years), the ability to produce large numbers of eggs will be limited. As these young fish mature, egg production probably will increase and the density of striped bass eggs eventually will approach historic levels, provided suitable habitat and water quality are maintained.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2002.tb01682.x

Affiliations: 1: Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Daniel B. Warnell School ofbForest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-2152, U.S.A. 2: United States Geological Survey-Biological Resources Division, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Daniel B. Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-2152, U.S.A.

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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