Alternate Title

Reproductive Biology of the Opossum Pipefish, Microphis brachyurus lineatus, in Tecolutla Estuary, Veracruz, Mexico

Document Type



The reproductive biology of the opossum pipefish, Microphis brachyurus lineatus, was investigated in Tecolutla estuary, Veracruz, Mexico, to determine sex ratio, size at maturity, gonadal and brood pouch histology, reproductive seasonality, and fecundity of this little-known syngnathid. A total of 345 fish were collected between 1995–1998, with an overall sex ratio of 1:1.35 favoring females. Brooding males made up 45% of the population, resulting in an operational sex ratio of 1:2.45 heavily favoring females. All males > 90 mm SL were considered sexually mature, as this was the size at which the brood pouch was clearly developed. Females > 110 mm SL were sexually mature, and had asynchronous oocyte development. Opossum pipefish appear to have a year-round reproductive season in Tecolutla estuary, as females with vitellogenic oocytes and males with eggs in the brood pouch were captured during every month of the year. The number of eggs in the brood pouch was positively correlated with male SL (P < 0.001), and in all but 2 cases males brooded embryos from a single female. The brood pouch is not enclosed by a membrane, and each egg is embedded in a septum consisting of epithelial tissue and numerous blood vessels. Evidence from this study suggests M. brachyurus lineatus may be a sequentially polygamous species with sex-role reversal reproductive behavior, although additional research is necessary to confirm the reproductive ecology and behavior of the species.

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