Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Reproductive biology of the eastern shovelnose stingaree Trygonoptera imitata from south-eastern Australia

Fabian I. Trinnie A B D , Terence I. Walker B C , Paul L. Jones A and Laurie J. Laurenson A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Warrnambool, Vic. 3280, Australia.

B Marine and Freshwater Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Victoria, Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 114, Queenscliff, Vic. 3225, Australia.

C Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 60(8) 845-860
Submitted: 26 May 2008  Accepted: 16 February 2009   Published: 27 August 2009


In applying a quantitative approach to the reproduction of Trygonoptera imitata, the present study contributes to understanding the wide diversity in the reproductive biology of the family Urolophidae and provides insights to help determine phylogenetic relationships. This localised species is taken as bycatch in several inshore fisheries and potentially impacted by a range of other anthropogenic pressures, including introduced species, particularly in shallow-water pupping areas. T. imitata can be characterised as a species of comparatively low matrotrophic histotrophy with an extended period of relatively large eggs in utero (5–8 months) followed by rapid growth of the embryos (4–6 months). The reproductive cycle is annual with parturition occurring during late-February–April, followed immediately by ovulation. Mean size-at-birth is ~225 mm total length and there is a ~1000% gain in mean wet mass from egg (15 g) to full-term embryo in utero (150 g), the lowest reported for any viviparous batoid. Litter size increases with maternal length, reaching a maximum of seven, and sex ratio of embryos is 1 : 1. Maximum length and estimates of the maturity–ogive parameters l50 and l95 are similar for females and males.

Additional keywords: gestation, maternity, maturity, ovulation, reproduction.


Professional fishermen and technical staff, students and volunteers at the Marine and Freshwater Fisheries Research Institute (MAFFRI) and Victorian Marine Science Consortium are acknowledged for collection of specimens and Anne Gason of MAFFRI provided advice on statistical analyses and management of data. Finally, the constructive comments from the two anonymous reviewers are acknowledged. This project was funded by the Australian Fisheries Research and Development Corporation grant (FRDC 2002/003) and a Deakin University PhD scholarship.


Babel J. S. (1967). Reproduction, life history, and ecology of the round stingray, Urolophus halleri Cooper. The Resource Agency Department of Fish and Game Fisheries Bulletin 137, State of California.

Beauchamp, J. , and Olsen, J. (1973). Corrections for bias in regression estimates after logarithmic transformation. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 36, 735–743.

Braccini, J. M. , Gillanders, B. M. , and Walker, T. I. (2006). Determining reproductive parameters for population assessments of chondrichthyan species with asynchronous ovulation and parturition: piked spurdog (Squalus megalops) as a case study. Marine and Freshwater Research 57, 105–119.
CrossRef |

Edwards, R. R. C. (1980). Aspects of the population dynamics and ecology of the white spotted stingaree, Urolopus paucimaculatus Dixon, in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 31, 459–467.
CrossRef |

Fahy, D. P. , Spieler, R. E. , and Hamlett, W. C. (2007). Preliminary observations on the reproductive cycle and uterine fecundity of the yellow stingray, Urobatis jamaicensis (Elasmobranchii: Myliobatiformes: Urolophidae) in southeast Florida, U.S.A. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 14, 131–139.

Graham, K. J. , Andrew, N. L. , and Hodgson, K. E. (2001). Changes in relative abundance of sharks and rays on Australian South East Fishery trawl grounds after twenty years of fishing. Marine and Freshwater Research 52, 549–561.
CrossRef |

Hamlett W. C. , Knight D. P. , Pereira F. T. V. , Steele J. , and Sever D. M. (2005 a). Oviducal glands in chondrichthyans. In ‘Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Chondrichthyes: Sharks, Batoids and Chimaeras’. (Ed. W. C. Hamlett.) pp. 302–335. (Science Publishers: Enfield, NH.)

Hamlett W. C. , Kormanik G. , Storrie M. T. , Stevens B. , and Walker T. I. (2005 b). Chondrichthyan parity, lecithotrophy and matrotrophy. In ‘Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Chondrichthyes: Sharks, Batoids and Chimaeras’. (Ed. W. C. Hamlett.) pp. 395–434. (Science Publishers: Enfield, NH.)

Heupel, M. R. , Carlson, J. K. , and Simpfendorfer, C. A. (2007). Shark nursery areas: concepts, definition, characterization and assumptions. Marine Ecology Progress Series 337, 287–297.
CrossRef |

Hobday, D. R. , Officer, R. A. , and Parry, G. D. (1999). Changes to demersal fish communities in Port Phillip Bay, Australia, over two decades, 1970–91. Marine and Freshwater Research 50, 397–407.

Hudson R. J. , Walker T. I. , and Day R. W. (2005). ‘Reproductive Biology of Common Sawshark (Pristiophorus cirratus) Harvested Off Southern Australia.’ (Primary Industries Research Victoria: Queenscliff.)

Huveneers, C. , Walker, T. I. , Otway, N. M. , and Harcourt, R. G. (2007). Reproductive synchrony of three sympatric species of wobbegong shark (genus Orectolobus) in New South Wales, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 58, 765–777.
CrossRef |

Last P. R. , and Marshall L. J. (2006 a). Urolophus bucculentus. In IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available from [Verified 30 July 2009].

Last P. R. , and Marshall L. J. (2006 b). Urolophus viridis. In IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available from [Verified 30 July 2009].

Last P. R. , and Stevens J. D. (1994). ‘Sharks and Rays of Australia.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Last P. R. , Marshall L. J. , and Trinnie F. I. (2006). Trygonoptera sp. B. In IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available from [Verified 30 July 2009].

Marshall, L. J. , White, W. T. , and Potter, I. C. (2007). Reproductive biology and diet of the southern fiddler ray, Trygonorrhina fasciata (Batoidae: Rhinobatidae), an important trawl bycatch species. Marine and Freshwater Research 58, 104–115.
CrossRef |

Mull, C. G. , Lowe, C. G. , and Young, K. A. (2008). Photoperiod and water temperature regulation of seasonal reproduction in male round stingrays (Urobatis halleri). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology – Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology 151, 717–725.
CrossRef |

Musick J. A. , and Ellis J. K. (2005). Reproduction evolution of chondrichthyans. In ‘Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Chondrichthyes: Sharks, Batoids and Chimaeras’. (Ed. W. C. Hamlett.) pp. 46–80. (Science Publishers: Enfield, NH.)

Neer, J. A. , and Thompson, B. A. (2005). Life history of the cownose ray, Rhinoptera bonasus, in the northern gulf of Mexico, with comments on geographic variability in life history traits. Environmental Biology of Fishes 73, 321–331.
CrossRef |

Renfree, M. B. , and Shaw, G. (2000). Diapause. Annual Review of Physiology 62, 353–375.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Simpfendorfer, C. A. (1992). Reproductive stratergy of the Australian sharpnose shark, Rhizoprionodon taylori (Elasmobranchii: Carcharinidae), from Cleveland Bay, Northern Queensland. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43, 67–75.
CrossRef |

Sims, D. W. (2003). Tractable models for testing theories about natural strategies: foraging behaviour and habitat selection of free-ranging sharks. Journal of Fish Biology 63, 53–73.
CrossRef |

Storrie M. T. (2004). Microscopic modifications of the reproductive tissues of the gummy shark (Mustelus antarticus) during maturation and gestation. PhD Thesis, School of Ecology and Environment, Faculty of Science and Technology, Deakin University, Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia.

Stroud G. J. (1975). The stingarees Urolophus testaceus (Muller & Henle) 1841 and Urolophus paucimaculatus Dixon 1969 (Batoidae) of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. B.Sc. (Hons) Thesis, Department of Zoology, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Treloar M. A. (2001). The ecology and biology of Urolophus cruciatus and Urolophus expansus (Urolophidae) in south-eastern Australia. B.Sc. (Hons) Thesis, School of Ecology and the Environment, Deakin University, Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia.

Walker T. I. (2005). Reproduction in fisheries science. In ‘Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Chondrichthyes: Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras’. (Ed. W. C. Hamlett) pp. 81–127. (Science Publishers: Enfield, NH.)

Walker, T. I. (2007). Spatial and temporal variation in the reproductive biology of gummy shark Mustelus antarticus (Chondrichthyes: Triakidae) harvested off southern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 58, 67–97.
CrossRef |

Walker T. I. , and Gason A. S. (2005). Chondrichthyan catch evaluation for the SESSF’ SharkRAG document 2005/08 (28–29 July 2005). (Primary Industries Research Victoria: Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia.)

Walker T. I. , and Gason A. S. (2007). Shark and other chondrichthyan byproduct and bycatch estimation in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Project No. 2001/007, Department of Primary Industries, MAFFRI, Queenscliff, Victoria.

White W. T. (1998). The age compositions, growth rates and reproductive biology of four species of elasmobranchs (Batoidae: Urolophidae) in coastal waters of south-western Australia. B.Sc. (Hons) Thesis, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

White, W. T. , and Potter, I. C. (2005). Reproductive biology, size and age compositions and growth of the batoid Urolophus paucimaculatus, including comparisons with other species of the Urolophidae. Marine and Freshwater Research 56, 101–110.
CrossRef |

White, W. T. , Hall, N. G. , and Potter, I. C. (2002). Reproductive biology and growth during pre- and postnatal life of Trygonoptera personata and T. mucosa (Batoidae: Urolophidae). Marine Biology 140, 699–712.
CrossRef |

Wourms, J. P. (1977). Reproduction and development in chondrichthyan fishes. American Zoologist 17, 379–410.

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (13)

View Altmetrics