Reproduction and growth of the Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali in its new environment (Cyprus, eastern Mediterranean Sea)
Keywords:alien, gonads, histology, maturity phases, reproductive cycle, growth
In the Mediterranean Sea, six species of Mullidae have been recorded, four of them being alien to the area. The most recent arrival in the Mediterranean is the Red Sea goatfish (Parupeneus forsskali), which was first spotted there in the year 2000. Although P. forsskali is endemic to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, it has recently expanded its distribution; it was confirmed in Cyprus in 2014. Since then, it has established a thriving population around the island, and is now commercially important. In the present study, the spawning season and gonad development of P. forsskali off the coast of Cyprus were studied, along with important biological parameters. Macroscopic and histological analyses of the gonads indicated five maturity phases for both ovaries and testes. The gonadal maturity phases and the gonadosomatic index indicated that P. forsskali spawns in the summer months, with the peak of the spawning season in July. Males were bigger, heavier, and more abundant than females, and the length-weight relationship was found to be TW=0.0065 TL3.17 for males and TW=0.0086 TL3.07 for females, both indicating positive allometric growth. The size at first sexual maturity (LM) was 14.2 cm for males and 11.8 cm for females. Five age groups were identified from the length-frequency distribution (0-4 years old). Age group 1 was the most dominant one, containing almost 60% of the sampled individuals. Natural mortality (M) declined with age, and the mean natural mortality coefficient across ages was 0.563 year-1. Overall, this is the first study that provides important information on the spawning season of the Red Sea goatfish and other estimations on various biological traits in its non-native habitat that can be of great importance for fisheries management.
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