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Sexual development and reproductive seasonality of hogfish (Labridae: Lachnolaimus maximus), an hermaphroditic reef fish

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The seasonality, size, age, colour phases and sexual dimorphism of 13 reproductive classes of hogfish Lachnolaimus maximus are described. Analysis of histological sections of gonads (n = 1662) confirmed earlier conclusions that L. maximus is a monandric, protogynous hermaphrodite. Sex change was initiated at the end of the spawning season and over a broad range of sizes and ages. It occurred after a functional female phase (postmaturation) and proceeded more slowly (months) than previously believed. Eventually all individuals changed sex to a terminal male phase. Females were batch spawners, spawning as often as every day during winter and spring. There was no evidence of precocious sperm crypts in active females, sperm competition or other alternative male sexual strategies. Mating has been reported elsewhere to be haremic. The sexual development of L. maximus appears to be adaptive in terms of Ghiselin’s size-advantage model, which links monandric protogyny and polygyny. The slow rate of sex change, however, poses problems when fishing pressure is high because harvest of a single male has the potential to reduce the reproductive output of an entire harem.
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Keywords: dichromatism; dimorphism; monandry; postmaturation; protogynous; sexuality

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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