Variations In Red Snapper Oocyte Development and Spawning In Relation To Environmental and Habitat Parameters

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Ocean Science and Engineering


The reproductive biology of Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is well understood, but there is little information on the impact of environmental, climatic, and habitat variables on reproductive parameters. We used multi-level Bayesian modeling and model selection to investigate how these variables affected spawning of female Red Snapper. Monthly collections of fish and environmental data were made from March to November 2016–2019 in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Potential spawning (percentage of tertiary vitellogenic oocytes) was best predicted by soluble reactive phosphate (PO4), PO42, dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), temperature (T), T2, depth, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and total dissolved nitrogen (TDN), with > 95% probability that these variables (except DIN) positively or negatively affected potential spawning. Annual variability is present but not predicted by the Oceanic El Niño Index (ONI), precipitation, or Bonnet Carré Spillway discharge. Recent spawning (the presence or absence of postovulatory follicles) was best predicted by PO4, PO42, DIN, salinity, dissolved oxygen, T, T2, rigs-to-reefs vs. platforms, depth, and ONI. These variables positively or negatively affected recent spawning with a > 95% probability except ONI (87% probability of positive effect). The best model for recent spawning was used to predict imminent spawning (presence or absence of fish undergoing oocyte maturation). Only PO4, salinity, T, T2, and rigs-to-reefs vs. platforms are important to predict imminent spawning, and their impacts are less certain than the impact on recent spawning. Our models indicate that temperature and river water nutrient delivery have the most impact on Red Snapper spawning in the northern GOM.

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Environmental Biology of Fishes



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