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

Reproductive biology, size and age compositions and growth of the batoid Urolophus paucimaculatus, including comparisons with other species of the Urolophidae

William T. White A B and Ian C. Potter A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Division of Science and Engineering, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 56(1) 101-110
Submitted: 25 August 2004  Accepted: 14 December 2004   Published: 4 February 2005


The biology of Urolophus paucimaculatus in south-western Australian waters has been examined and compared with that of the co-occurring Urolophus lobatus, Trygonoptera personata and Trygonoptera mucosa. These four species represent the only two genera of the Urolophidae. Urolophus paucimaculatus conceives in early/mid-summer and gives birth in late spring/early summer, closely paralleling the situation with U. lobatus. Although Trygonoptera species likewise have a 10–12-month gestation period, they conceive and give birth in late autumn to mid-winter. The marked intergeneric differences in birth time help account for pronounced intergeneric differences in the diets of their newly born young. By birth, Urolophus paucimaculatus attains ~50% of its asymptotic size. The relatively large mean disc width of the four urolophids at birth, i.e. 105–128 mm, accounts for the small litters of these species (1–2 young per litter). Size at maturity and maximal size and age of each species are greater for females than males and are greater for Trygonoptera than Urolophus species. The growth of U. paucimaculatus and the other urolophids throughout pre- and postnatal life can be described by a single smooth growth curve. The maintenance of a constant pattern of growth from conception is remarkable because the diet and behaviour of these elasmobranchs changes radically at parturition.


Our gratitude is expressed to G. A. Hyndes, G. A. Sarre, M. E. Platell and S. A. Hesp for help with sampling, and to N. G. Hall and S. A. Hesp for their very constructive comments on the manuscript. The assistance of N. G. Hall with the statistical and quantitative aspects of the paper was particularly valuable. Financial support was provided by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Fisheries WA, and Murdoch University.


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