, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 49-66

Reproductive Timing of Fishes in a Tropical Intermittent Stream

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Abstract

Six fish species were studied in an intermittent lowland stream in Trinidad, West Indies for 28 months from 1980 to 1982. They were Gasteropelecus sternicla, Corynopoma riisei, Astyanax bimaculatus, Hemigrammus unilineatus, Corydoras aeneus and Poecilia reticulata. Peaks in GSIs and presence of mature adults and juveniles, as determined from monthly field collections, indicated reproduction coincident with the rainy seasons in all species except Poecilia. Gasteropelecus bred for a short period at the beginning of the main rainy season while Corynopoma, Corydoras and Hemigrammus had extended periods of breeding activity each year coincident with high rainfall. The presence of juveniles suggests that Astyanax also bred during the rainy season. Poecilia reproduced continuously throughout the study period but exhibited discharge-related adult stock fluctuations that may have influenced reproductive activity. Maximum ovarian fecundity correlated with species size suggested body size limitation on fecundity for small species such as Corynopoma and Hemigrammus. Size frequency distributions of oocytes in mature ovaries indicate synchronised ovum maturation in Astyanax and possibly Gasteropelecus, while Hemigrammus, Corynopoma and Corydoras showed evidence of continuous maturation of oocytes and multiple spawning. Prolonged small brood spawning was confirmed in the laboratory for Corynopoma and Hemigrammus and resulted in spawning fecundities up to 11 times greater than ovarian fecundities for Corynopoma. It is concluded that the conditions of intermittency in this stream did not significantly alter the reproductive styles of these species as described for other Neotropical environments, perhaps because of their opportunistic nature. Patterns of spawning for the characoids can be directly related to size and phylogeny.