Alternate Title

Life History of Silver Perch Bairdiella chrysoura (Lacepède, 1803) in North-Central Gulf of Mexico Estuaries


Silver perch, Bairdiella chrysoura (Lacepède) [n = 485, 70.0–171.0 mm standard length (SL)] were collected from April 2002 through June 2003 in estuaries along the coast of Mississippi to quantify their life history. Ages estimated from sagittal otoliths ranged from 0 to 4 yr. Adult females were significantly longer and heavier than males at a given age. Silver perch became sexually mature at the end of their first year of life (0 yr), with 50% sexual maturity of the population occurring in the 91–95 mm SL size class. Gonadosomatic index (GSI) values for females began to increase in January and peaked in April (mean GSI = 11.99 ± 0.77), whereas mean male GSI values peaked in March at 1.70 (±0.11). Female silver perch were reproductively active for 6 mo, but peak spawning occurred from mid-March to June. Both oocyte maturation (OM) and postovulatory follicles (POF) were used to estimate spawning frequency. The OM method appeared to be the best estimate, paralleling most closely what was observed histologically, with spawning occurring every 1.25 d at the height of the season. Additionally, histological evidence suggested that 24% of the females sampled were capable of daily spawning. This life history information fills in data gaps to further the development of community-based models of estuarine systems, in turn facilitating best ecosystem management practices.