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Life-history traits of the endangered river blenny Salaria fluviatilis (Asso) and their implications for conservation

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Abstract:

The life-history characteristics of the river blenny Salaria fluviatilis in a Mediterranean stream in north-east Spain have been studied. The maximum age observed was 4+ years in both sexes, although only age groups 0+ and 1+ years were well represented. For both sexes, growth was rapid between April and June (before the summer drought) and in October. The instantaneous rate of monthly growth (April to October) was positively correlated with water depth. All fish attained sexual maturity during their first year of life. Females spawned multiple times. Spawning occurred mainly from June to August, although older females (2+ years old) began in May. The relationship between fecundity and total length recorded for older females in the spring was not significantly different from that obtained for 1 year-old females in the summer. The mean diameter of ripe oocytes, however, was greater in older females. Larger eggs that were laid during a period of good food supply (spring) might have a higher probability of survival. The results suggest that female fecundity is affected by environmental conditions. The species is characterized by fast growth, early maturity, multiple spawning and limited longevity. This may be a good life-history strategy for small fish species in unstable environments, where adult mortality is high, variable or unpredictable. Some life-history traits of the river blenny suggest that this species might be vulnerable to more severe drought conditions than those associated with the Mediterranean climate.

Keywords: Blennius fluviatilis; Mediterranean-type climate; age and growth; fluctuating streams; fresh water; reproduction

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2007.01371.x

Affiliations: Departament de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats), Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Avda. Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: 2007-04-01

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