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Age, growth, and sexual maturity of the yellownose skate Dipturus chilensis in the south‐eastern Pacific

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The age and growth parameters of Dipturus chilensis were estimated by counting growth rings from thin sections of vertebral centra from 400 fish (246 females and 154 males), ranging from 23 to 124 cm total length (LT), and backcalculating fish lengths at previous ages. Marginal increment analysis lent support to the hypothesis of annual deposition of band‐pairs, which formed during the winter months. The oldest female D. chilensis aged in this study was 21 years and 117 cm LT, whereas the oldest male was 18 years and 93 cm LT. A 4·7% index of average per cent error (IAPE) suggested that this is a precise method for calculating the age of D. chilensis. Observed LT were lower than backcalculated LT, which implies the influence of Lee's phenomenon. The von Bertalanffy growth equations, based on mean length‐at‐age data, were estimated as Lt = 128·3 (1 − e−0·112 (t + 0·514)) for females and Lt = 107·8 (1 − e−0·134 (t + 0·862)) for males where t is age (years). Growth was significantly different between sexes: females reached a larger adult size. Ages and lengths at 50% maturity were estimated at 14 years of age and 106 cm LT for females and 11 years of age and 86 cm LT for males. At c. 14 years, there was a decline in growth rates in females. The factor most likely responsible for this was sexual maturity, which caused a discontinuity in growth of female fish. These results show that this species is slow‐growing, long‐lived, relatively large and of delayed maturity, characteristics that make it vulnerable to exploitation.

Keywords: Dipturus; South America; age; growth; maturity; skate

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Isla Teja, Casilla 567, Valdivia, Chile, 2: Centro de Estudios Pesqueros, Universidad Austral de Chile, Blanco 1199, Of. 83B, Valparaíso, Chile and 3: Instituto de Ecología y Evolución, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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