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

Age, growth, reproductive biology and spawning periodicity of the forktail rabbitfish (Siganus argenteus) from the Mariana Islands

Brett M. Taylor A D , John Gourley B and Michael S. Trianni C

A Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii and NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA.

B Micronesian Environmental Services, PO Box 502802, Saipan MP 96950, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA.

C National Marine and Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, CNMI Field Office, Saipan MP, 96950, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: brett.taylor@noaa.gov

Marine and Freshwater Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF16169
Submitted: 6 May 2016  Accepted: 1 August 2016   Published online: 31 August 2016

Abstract

In the present study, life-history traits of importance to fisheries management were estimated for the forktail rabbitfish (Siganus argenteus) based on fishery-dependent samples collected over a 2-year period in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Age-based and reproductive information was derived from analysis of sagittal otoliths and gonads. The species is short-lived, with a maximum age of 7+ years, and females reach sexual maturity at ~1.3 years (21.8-cm fork length). Age distributions and total mortality rates were similar between sexes. However, females on average reached larger asymptotic sizes, with estimates of mean asymptotic length exceeding that of males by 2 cm. Reproductive cycles, based on temporal variation in gonadosomatic index values and proportional frequency of active ovaries, demonstrated two annual activity peaks, consistent across 2 years of sampling. Peak spawning occurred from March to May–June, whereas a second, smaller peak spanned August and September. In the Mariana Islands, S. argenteus represents a short-lived species with potential for rapid population turnover; 85% of the population is under 3 years of age, whereas approximately half of all harvested individuals have reached reproductive maturity. Derived estimates of natural and fishing mortality indicate minimal concerns for the long-term fishery sustainability of this species under present levels of exploitation.

Additional keywords: demography, life history, Micronesia, otolith, reproduction, Siganidae.


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