Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 4, pp 727–737 | Cite as

Embryo development and maternal–embryo nutritional relationships of piked spurdog (Squalus megalops)

  • J. M. BracciniEmail author
  • W. C. Hamlett
  • B. M. Gillanders
  • T. I. Walker
Research Article


The maternal–embryo relationship was determined for the piked spurdog (Squalus megalops). In addition, the increase in offspring size with maternal size was studied and the embryonic development was described. Wet weight of in utero eggs and offspring size was correlated with maternal size; larger females produced larger embryos which would have higher survival rate and reproductive value. All embryos present in a female were at a similar stage of development. The external yolk sac is reabsorbed late in gestation, suggesting that embryos are mostly nourished by yolk sac reserves. Embryo size-at-birth varied considerably (180–244 mm total length) as a result of the significant variability in ova size at ovulation. The amounts of water, organic and inorganic matter of embryos at different stages of development were measured to determine possible maternal contributions during embryonic development. Total wet weight from smallest and largest in utero eggs to smallest and largest term embryos changed by +46 and +58%, respectively. This pattern was due to a change in water content by +137 and +154%, and inorganic matter by +100 and +156%. Organic matter of smallest and largest in utero eggs changed by −23 and −17%, respectively. The uterus of pregnant females became specialised for water and mineral transport, not nutrient provision. These results indicate that S. megalops is a strict yolk-sac viviparous species with no maternal contribution of organic matter during development.


Pregnant Female Shark Species Maternal Contribution Embryonic Structure Maternal Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to Peter Risley, Glenn Richardson and the crew of the fishing vessel ‘Nungurner’ for help in sample collection, to Javier Guallart for help in data analysis and discussion. This research was supported by an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship and a University of Adelaide Postgraduate Research Scholarship to JMB and an Australian Fisheries Research and Development Corporation grant (FRDC 2002/033) to TIW. BMG was supported by an Australian Research Council QEII Research Fellowship. Funding for the field and laboratory components was provided by Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Nature Foundation SA and Royal Zoological Society of South Australia. All experiments carried out in this study comply with the laws of Australia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Braccini
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • W. C. Hamlett
    • 2
  • B. M. Gillanders
    • 1
  • T. I. Walker
    • 3
  1. 1.Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of MedicineIndiana UniversityNotre DameUSA
  3. 3.Primary Industries Research VictoriaQueenscliffAustralia

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