Geographic variation in life-history traits of the endemic kite skate Dipturus chilensis (Batoidea: Rajidae), along its distribution in the fjords and channels of southern Chile
Life-history traits of kite skates Dipturus chilensis were examined from two regions (c. 2286 km apart) in the sheltered fjords and channels of southern Chile. A total of 482 and 403 specimens were collected from the southern fjords (c. 42–46° S) and the fjords of Chilean Patagonia (c. 51–54° S), from September 2003 to 2004, respectively. Vertebra marginal increment analysis indicated an annual deposition of growth rings which was completed during the winter months. For each region, von Bertalanffy growth parameters showed that females attained a larger asymptotic size, L∞, had a lower growth coefficient, K, and lived longer than males. Growth analysis indicated that D. chilensis from the Patagonian fjords had a longer life span (females: 22 v. 21 years; males 19 v. 17 years), attained a larger L∞ (females: 150 v. 136 cm; males: 122 v. 118 cm total length, LT) and had a lower K value (females: 0·087 v. 0·104; males: 0·110 v. 0·116) than their counterparts in the southern fjords. Comparisons with previous studies indicated that D. chilensis from both southern and Patagonian sheltered fjords had larger L∞, and grew more slowly than their counterparts from central-southern Chile (L∞= 119–123 cm, K= 0·123–0·127), suggesting latitudinal variations in growth. Females attained sexual maturity later than males in both regions. For both sexes, lengths at 50% maturity (L50%) between regions were similar (females: c. 103 cm; males: c. 87 cm LT); however, D. chilensis from Patagonia appeared to mature 1 year earlier (females: 13 v. 14 years; males: 10 v. 11 years). Specimens from Patagonia had a lower ovarian fecundity than those from the southern fjords. An increase in the proportion of mature females and males during summer, suggests that the reproductive peak occurs in this season, and no regional differences were found. The size of the egg cases increased with maternal LT and these were longer in Patagonia. The information provided here represents the first evidence of regional variations in life-history traits for elasmobranchs in the south-eastern Pacific.
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