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Life history of a wide-ranging deepwater lantern shark in the north-east Atlantic, Etmopterus spinax (Chondrichthyes: Etmopteridae), with implications for conservation

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In this paper, the population biology of the velvet belly lanternshark Etmopterus spinax was studied and life-history coefficients determined. Age was estimated from sections of the second dorsal spine and validated by marginal increment analysis. Males attained a maximum age of 8 years while 11 year-old females were found. Several growth models were fitted and compared for both size-at-age and mass-at-age data, showing that even though this is a small-sized species, it has a relatively slow growth rate. This species matures late, specifically at 49·6 and 42·5% of the maximum observed ages for males and females, respectively. It has a low fecundity, with a mean ovarian fecundity of 9·94 oocytes and a mean uterine fecundity of 7·59 embryos per reproductive cycle. This species seems to have a long reproductive cycle, and even though no conclusive data were obtained, a 2–3 year cycle is possible. The estimated coefficients indicate that this species has a vulnerable life cycle, typical of deepwater squalid sharks. Given the high fishing pressures that it is suffering in the north-east Atlantic, this fish may already be facing severe declines or in risk of facing them in the near future.
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Keywords: age and growth; elasmobranch; fisheries management; population dynamics; reproduction; species conservation

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Universidade do Algarve, FCMA/CCMAR, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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