, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 655-669,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 09 Sep 2006

Is the timing of spawning in sparid fishes a response to sea temperature regimes?


Published spawning seasons of sparid fish were investigated to determine if there were consistent patterns that could be related to large-scale physical variability, and whether these relationships were species-specific or characteristic of higher taxonomic groupings. For individual species, genera and the family Sparidae as a whole, there was a consistent pattern; spawning at lower latitudes was concentrated close to the month of lowest sea surface temperature, while spawning at higher latitudes was more variable with greater deviations from the month of minimum sea surface temperature. The distribution of sparids may be limited by a lack of tolerance of one or more early life-history stage to high water temperatures, so targeting spawning to the coolest part of the year could be a tactic allowing maximum penetration into warmer waters. Such a link between the physiology of early life-history stages and timing of spawning could have direct consequences for patterns of distributions over a number of taxonomic scales. If there are similar constraints on the reproduction of other species, even minor increases in water temperature due to global warming that may be within the tolerance of adults, may impose constraints on the timing of spawning, with flow-on effects for both species and whole ecosystems.

Communicated by Biology Editor M. I. McCormick.