Alternate Title

Age, Growth, Mortality, and Reproduction of Roughtongue Bass, Pronotogrammus martinicensis (Serranidae), in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico


The inaccessibility of outer continental shelf reefs has made it difficult to investigate the biology of Pronotogrammus martinicensis, a small sea bass known to be numerous and widely distributed in such habitat. This study takes advantage of a series of cruises in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico that collected 1,485 individuals. Fish were collected over or in the vicinity of reef habitats with hook and line, otter trawl, and rotenone. We present a preliminary validation of an otolith ageing method and report that P. martinicensis reached a maximum size of 143 mm standard length (SL), grew to about 50% of this size within their first year, and lived to a maximum age of 15 yr. Size at age data (n = 490) fitted to the von Bertalanffy growth model yielded the predictive equation: SLt = 106.3(1 - e[-0.641{t-0.646}]), where t = age in years. Gonad histology (n = 333) was examined to confirm that P. martinicensis is a protogynous, monandric hermaphrodite. We found no evidence of simultaneous hermaphroditism, which had been tentatively proposed in a previous study. Most P. martinicensis matured as females in their second year (age 1), primary oocytes developed asynchronously into secondary oocytes, and females were batch spawners. Males were postmaturational. Seminiferous tissue formed as early as age 1, but, although the rate of sex change is unknown, most fish did not function as a male until age 3 or age 4. These data provide age-based benchmarks of a common reef fish species living on the outer continental shelf of the tropical western North Atlantic Ocean.