The MEDITS maturity scales as a useful tool for investigating the reproductive traits of key species in the Mediterranean Sea




MEDITS maturity scales, reproduction, fish, cephalopods, crustaceans, Mediterranean Sea


Maturity is one of the most important biological parameters used in stock assessment programmes. Indeed, the macroscopic stage of gonadal development is an essential feature in estimating the maturity ogive and spawning stock biomass. It is also useful for determining the spawning season of a species and for monitoring long-term changes in the spawning cycle as well as for many other research needs related to the biology of fish. Despite the efforts made during the last few decades to standardize maturity stage data among all the researchers, marine biologists continue without a manageable and unique maturity scale to describe the reproductive development of fish gonads. For these reasons, the objectives of this article are 1) to investigate the biological parameters of five selected key species (Mullus barbatus, Galeus melastomus, Etmopterus spinax, Aristeus antennatus, Loligo vulgaris) with different reproductive strategies following the macroscopic maturity scales based on the same univocal criteria adopted in the MEDITS programme and described in this work; and 2) to compare them among some Mediterranean geographical sub-areas (GSAs) involved in the programme. Neither spawning periods nor size at first maturity (SFM50) for the studied species showed particular differences in the investigated GSAs.


Download data is not yet available.


Anonymous. 2016. MEDITS-Handbook. Version n. 8, MEDITS Working Group, 177 pp.

Alarcón C., Cubillos L., Oyarzún C. 2004. Influencia del tamaño de la hembra en la duración e intensidad de la actividad reproductiva de Merluccius gayi gayi en la zona centro-sur de Chile. Invest. Mar. Valparaiso 32: 59-69.

Agus B. 2015. Studio sui calamari Loligo vulgaris (Lamarck, 1798) e Loligo forbesii (Streenstrup, 1856) delle acque della Sardegna. PhD thesis, Univ. Cagliari.

Arkhipkin A.I. 1992. Reproductive system structure, development and function in Cephalopods with a new general scale for maturity stages. J. Northwest Atl. Fish. Sci. 12: 63-74.

Botsford L.W., Brumbaugh D.R., Grimes C., et al. 2009. Connectivity, sustainability, and yield: bridging the gap between conventional fisheries management and marine protected areas. Rev. Fish Biol. Fish. 19: 69-95.

Brown-Peterson N., Wyanski D.M., Saborido-Rey F., et al. 2011. A standardized terminology for describing reproductive development in fishes. Mar. Coast. Fish. 3: 52-70.

Carbonara P., Intini S., Modugno E., et al. 2015. Reproductive biology characteristics of red mullet (Mullus barbatus L., 1758) in Southern Adriatic Sea and management implications. Aquat. Living Resour. 28: 21-31.

Carbonell A., Grau A., Lauronce V., et al. 2006. Ovary development of the red shrimp, Aristeus antennatus (Risso, 1816) from the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Crustaceana 79: 727-743.

Cardinale M., Arrhenius F. 2000. The influence of stock structure and environmental conditions on the recruitment process of Baltic cod estimated using a generalized additive model. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 57: 2402-2409.

Casciaro L., Leonori I., Bitetto I., et al. 2012. GSA 10 - Mare Adriatico meridionale. In Mannini A. and Relini G. (eds). Rapporto annuale sullo stato delle risorse biologiche dei mari circostanti d'Italia: anno 2009. Biol. Mar. Mediterr. 19: 138-161.

Cerri P.S., Sasso-Cerri E. 2003. Staining methods applied to glycol methacrylate embedded tissue sections. Micron 34: 365-372.

Cuccu D., Mereu M., Porcu C., et al. 2013. Development of sexual organs and fecundity in Octopus vulgaris Cuvier, 1797 from the Sardinian waters (Mediterranean Sea). Medit. Mar. Sci. 14: 270-277.

D'Onghia G., Capezzuto F., Mytilineou Ch., et al. 2005. Comparison of the population structure and dynamics of Aristeus antennatus (Risso, 1816) between exploited and unexploited areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Fish. Res. 76: 22-38.

Dominguez-Petit R. 2007. Study of reproductive potential of Merluccius merluccius in the Galician Shelf. Ph.D. thesis. Univ. Vigo.

Follesa M.C., Carbonara P. 2019. Atlas of the maturity stages of Mediterranean fishery resources. Studies and Reviews No. 99, FAO, Rome. 268 pp.

Follesa M.C., Cuccu D., Murenu M., et al. 1998. Aspetti riproduttivi negli aristeidi Aristaeomorpha foliacea (Risso, 1827) e Aristeus antennatus (Risso, 1816) della classe di età 0+ e 1+. Biol. Mar. Mediterr. 5: 232-238.

Hamlett W.C. 2005. Reproductive biology and phylogeny of Chondrichthyes: sharks, batoids and chimaeras. Sci. Publ. Inc., New Hampshire, USA.

Huret M., Runge J., Chen C., et al. 2007. Dispersal modeling of fish early life stages: sensitivity with application to Atlantic cod in the western Gulf of Maine. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 347: 261-274.

ICES 2007. Report of the Workshop on sexual maturity sampling (WKMAT). ICES, CM 2007/ ACOM:03, Copenhagen, Denmark.

ICES 2008. Report of the Workshop on Maturity Ogive Estimation for Stock Assessment (WKMOG), 3-6 June 2008, Lisbon, Portugal. ICES CM2008/ACOM:33: 72 pp.

ICES 2009a. Report of the Planning Group on Commercial Catches, Discards and Biological Sampling (PGCCDBS), 2-6 March 2009, Montpellier, France. ICES CM 2009/ACOM:39: 160 pp.

ICES 2009b. Report of the Workshop on crustaceans (Aristeus antennatus, Aristaeomorpha foliacea, Parapenaeus longirostris, Nephrops norvegicus) maturity stages (WKMSC). ICES CM 2009/ACOM:46, 19-23 October 2009, Messina, Italy. 77 pp.

ICES 2010. Report of the Workshop on Sexual Maturity Staging of Cephalopods. ICES CM 2010/ACOM:49. 8-11 November 2010, Livorno, Italy. 97 pp.

ICES 2013. Report of the Workshop on Sexual Maturity Staging of Elasmobranchs (WKMSEL2) ICES CM 2012/ACOM:59. 11- 14 December 2012, Lisbon, Portugal. 113 pp.

ICES 2015. Report of the Workshop on Maturity Staging of Mackerel and Horse Mackerel (WKMSMAC2), 28 September-2 October 2015, Lisbon, Portugal. ICES CM 2015/SSGIEOM:17. 93 pp.

Juanicó M. 1983. Squid maturity scales for population analysis. In: Caddy J.F. (ed.), Advances in assessment of world Cephalopod resources, FAO Fish. Tech. Pap. 231: 341-348.

Junquera S., Saborido-Rey F. 1996. Histological assessment of sexual maturity of the Flemish Cap Cod in 1995. NAFO Sci. Coun. Studies 27: 63-67.

Kennedy J., Witthames P.R., Nash R. 2007. The concept of fecundity regulation in place (Pleuronectess platessa) tested on three Irish Sea spawning populations. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 64: 587-601.

Kjesbu O.S. 1994. Time of start of spawning in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) females in relation to vitellogenic oocyte diameter, temperature, fish length and condition. J. Fish Biol. 45: 719-735.

Kjesbu O.S. 2009. Applied fish reproductive biology: contribution of individual reproductive potential to recruitment and fisheries management. In: Jakobsen T., Fogarty M.J., et al. (eds), Fish Reproductive Biology: Implications for Assessment and Mangement, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, U.K., pp. 293-332.

Lipinski M. 1979. Universal maturity scale for the commercially-important squids (Cephalopoda: Teuthoidea). The results of maturity classification of the Illex illecebrosus Leseur, (1821) population for years 1973-1977. International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, ICNAF Res. Doc. 79/II/38, 40 pp.

Lowerre-Barbieri S.K. 2009. Reproduction in relation to conservation and exploitation of marine fishes. In: Jameson B.G.M. (ed), Reproductive biology and phylogeny of fishes (agnathans and bony fishes). Science Publishers, Enfield, New Hampshire, pp. 371-394.

Marongiu M.F., Bellodi A., Cau A.l., et al. 2013. Reproductive biology of the blackmouth catshar Galeus melastomus Rafinesque, 1810 in Sardinian seas (central western Mediterranean). Biol. Mar. Mediterr. 20: 190-191.

Marshall C.T., O'Brien L., Tomkiewicz J. 2003. Developing alternative indices of reproductive potential for use in fisheries management: case studies for stocks spanning an information gradient. J. Northwest Atl. Fish. Sci. 33: 161-190.

Mazzi V. 1977. Tecniche istologiche e istochimiche. Piccin Ed., Padova: 750 pp.

Morrison C.M. 1990. Histology of the Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua: an atlas. Part three. reproductive tract . Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat.Sci. 110.

Murua H., Saborido-Rey F. 2003. Female reproductive strategies of marine fish species of the North Atlantic. J. Northwest Atl. Fish. Sci. 33: 23-31.

Murua H., Kraus G., Saborido-Rey F., et al. 2003. Procedures to estimate fecundity of wild collected marine fish in relation to fish reproductive strategy. J. Northwest Atl. Fish. Sci. 33: 33-54.

Nuñez J., Duponchelle F. 2009. Towards a universal scale to assess sexual maturation and related life history traits in oviparous teleost fishes. Fish Physil. Biochem. 35: 167-180. PMid:18668334

Pecquerie L., Petitgas P., Kooijman S. 2009. Modeling fish growth and reproduction in the context of the dynamic energy budget theory to predict environmental impact on anchovy spawning duration. J. Sea Res. 62: 93-105.

Pesci P. 2006. Ecologia, biologia e struttura di popolazione delle triglie Mullus barbatus Linneo, 1758 e Mullus surmuletus Linneo, 1758 nei mari circostanti la Sardegna. Ph. D. thesis. Univ. Cagliari, Italy.

Porcu C., Marongiu M.F., Follesa M.C., et al. 2014. Reproductive aspects of the velvet belly Etmopterus spinax (Chondrichthyes: Etmopteridae), from the central western Mediterranean Sea. Notes on gametogenesis and oviducal gland microstructure. Medit. Mar. Sci. 15: 313-326.

Ragonese S., Nardone G., Ottonello D., et al. 2009. Distribution and biology of the blackmouth catshark Galeus melastomus in the Strait of Sicily (central Mediterranean Sea). Medit. Mar. Sci. 1081: 55-72.

Rocha F., Guerra Á., González Á.F. 2001. A review of reproductive strategies in Cephalopods. Biol. Rev. 76: 291-304. PMid:11569786

Saborido-Rey F. 2016. Fish Reproduction. In: Cochran J.K., Bokuniewicz J., et al. (eds), Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences (Third edition), Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. Academic Press, Oxford, pp. 232-245.

Tomkiewicz J., Morgan M.J., Burnett J., et al. 2003. Available Information for estimating reproductive potential of Northwest Atlantic groundfish stocks. J. Northwest Atl. Fish. Sci. 33: 1-21.

Trippel E. 1999. Estimation of stock reproductive potential: history and challenges for Canadian Atlantic gadoid stock assessments. J. Northwest Atl. Fish. Sci. 25: 61-82.

Tursi A., D'Onghia G., Matarrese A., et al. 1993. Observations on population biology of the blackmouth catshark Galeus melastomus (Chondrichthyes, Scyliorhinidae) in the Ionian Sea. Cybium 17: 187-196.



How to Cite

Follesa MC, Agus B, Bellodi A, Cannas R, Capezzuto F, Casciaro L, Cau A, Cuccu D, Donnaloia M, Fernandez-Arcaya U, Gancitano V, Gaudio P, Marongiu MF, Mulas A, Pesci P, Porcu C, Rossetti I, Sion L, Vallisneri M, Carbonara P. The MEDITS maturity scales as a useful tool for investigating the reproductive traits of key species in the Mediterranean Sea. scimar [Internet]. 2019Dec.30 [cited 2023Sep.29];83(S1):235-56. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 > >>