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Size and age estimates at sexual maturity for the little skate Leucoraja erinacea from the western Gulf of Maine, U.S.A.

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Size and age estimates at sexual maturity were determined for 162 male and 273 female little skates Leucoraja erinacea collected from the western Gulf of Maine. Maturity ogives suggest that 50% maturity in females occurs at age 9·5 years and 480 mm total length (LT), whereas 50% maturity in males occurs at a slightly younger age of 7·7 years and smaller size of 460 mm LT. Age estimates were made from 389 L. erinacea ranging in size from 93 to 570 mm LT. The index of average per cent error and age-bias plots indicated that the ageing methods were precise and non-biased. Additionally, annual periodicity of band formation was validated with oxytetracycline in eight individuals (three males and five females) ranging in age from 3 to 12 years. In conclusion, results from this study indicate that L. erinacea exhibits characteristics that make other elasmobranch populations highly susceptible to overexploitation.
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Keywords: elasmobranch; hormones; oxytetracycline; rajidae; reproduction

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Mississippi Laboratories, P.O. Drawer 1207, Pascagoula, MS 39568, U.S.A. 2: Department of Animal and Nutritional Science, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, U.S.A. 3: Department of Anatomy, College of Osteopathic Medicine, University of New England, 11 Hills Beach Rd, Biddeford, ME 04005, U.S.A. 4: Marine Science Center, University of New England, 11 Hills Beach Rd, Biddeford, ME 04005, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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