Ireland’s understudied flatfish: reproduction, age and growth of the dab Limanda limanda (L.) in Irish coastal waters
In Ireland, although flatfish form a valuable fishery, little is known about the smallest, the dab Limanda limanda. In this study, a variety of parameters of reproductive development, including ovarian phase description, gonadosomatic index (GSI), hepatosomatic index (HSI), relative condition (Kn) and oocyte size were analysed to provide information on the dab’s reproductive cycle and spawning periods. Sampling were collected monthly over an 18-month period using bottom trawls of the Irish coastline. A six phase macroscopic guide was developed for both sexes of dab, and verified using histology. In comparisons of macroscopic and microscopic phases, there was high agreement in the proposed female guide (86%), with males demonstratively lower (62%). No significant bias was observed between the the two reproductive methods. When the male macroscopic guide was examined, misclassification was high in phase 5 and phase 5 (41%), with 96% of misclassification occurring in adjacent phases. The sampled population was primarily composed of females, with ratios of females to males 1:0.6, although the predominance of females was less noticeable during the reproductive season. Oocyte growth in dab follows asynchronous development, and spawn over a protracted period indicating a batch spawning strategy. Spawning occurred mainly in early spring, with total regeneration of gonads by May. The length at which 50% of the population was reproductively mature was identified as 14cm and 17cm, for male and female dab, respectively. Precision and bias in age determinations using whole otoliths to age dab was investigated using six age readers from various institutions. Low levels of precision were obtained (CV: 10-23%) inferring the need for an alternative methodology. Precision and bias was influence by the level of experience of the reader, with ageing error attributed to interpretative differences and difficulty in edge determination. Sectioned otolith age determinations were subsequently compared to whole otolith age determinations using two age readers experienced in dab ageing. Although increased precision was observed in whole otoliths from previous estimates (CV=0%, 0% APE), sectioned otoliths were used for growth models. This was based on multinominal logistic regression on age length keys developed using both ageing methods. Biological data (length and age) for both sexes was applied to four growth models, where the Akaike criterion and Multi model Inference indicated the logistic model as having the best fit to the collected data. In general, female dab attained a longer length then males, with growth rates significantly different between the two sexes. Length weight relationships between the two sexes were also significantly different.
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