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Aspects of reproduction and diet of the Australian endemic skate Dipturus polyommata (Ogilby) (Elasmobranchii: Rajidae), by-catch of a commercial prawn trawl fishery

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The Australian endemic skate Dipturus polyommata collected from by-catch of a benthic prawn fishery off southern Queensland was examined to provide information on reproduction and diet. Morphological relationships of total length (LT) to disc width and LT to mass were estimated. Size at birth was estimated at c. 100–110 mm and size at first feeding at c. 105–110 mm LT. Size at 50% maturity (LT50 and 95% CI) was 321 (305–332) and 300 (285–306) mm LT for females and males, respectively. Size at first maturity corresponded to 87·7% of observed maximum size in females (366 mm LT) and 87·5% in males (343 mm LT). Two females, representing 18·2% of mature females sampled in the austral winter were each carrying two egg cases. Descriptions of egg cases are given. Diet described by the index of relative importance as a percentage (%IRI) was predominantly crustacean based with carid shrimps (53·64%) and penaeoid prawns (23·30%) the most significant prey groups. Teleosts (11·72%), gammarid amphipods (5·31%) and mysids (4·72%) were also important to the diet of the species, while a further six prey groups made only a minor contribution to diet (1·31%). An ontogenetic change was evident between the diets of immature and mature skates. Immature animals fed more extensively on carids and amphipods and mature animals on penaeoids, teleosts and mysids.
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Keywords: egg cases; maturity; ontogenetic dietary shifts

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Southern Fisheries Centre, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Deception Bay, Queensland 4508, Australia 2: School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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