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Free Content Tropical Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations: Defined and Reviewed

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The formation of spawning aggregations at specific locations and times is a common mode of reproduction for species in some tropical reef fish families. A spawning aggregation was broadly defined as a gathering of conspecific fish, for the purposes of spawning, that consisted of fish densities significantly higher than are found during the non-reproductive period, or for fishes that normally occur in dense schools, must occur in significantly greater number and take up significantly more space. Two spawning aggregation types, resident and transient, were defined and applied to examples in the literature. These aggregation types were defined based on differences in 1) the frequency with which the spawning aggregation occurs, 2) the length of time the aggregation persists, 3) the site specificity of the aggregation, and 4) the distance individual fish travel to the aggregation site. As a result of the above criteria an individual's relative contribution towards its total annual reproductive output, made at a single spawning aggregation, is vastly different between the two aggregation types. Review of the literature resulted in examples of serranid, lutjanid and siganid spawning aggregations being classified as transient spawning aggregations, while scarid, labrid and acanthurid spawning aggregations were deemed to be resident spawning aggregations. Examples of spawning aggregations from other families, which lack sufficient data to be classified, are also reviewed.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1997

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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