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Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 321–331 | Cite as

Life history of the cownose ray, Rhinoptera bonasus, in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with comments on geographic variability in life history traits

  • Julie A. Neer
  • Bruce A. Thompson
Article

Synopsis

We determined age and growth, size at maturity, and fecundity for cownose rays, Rhinoptera bonasus, collected from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Vertebral age estimates ranged from 0+ to 18+ years for females and 0+ to 16+ years for males. Annual deposition of growth increments was verified with marginal increment analysis. Likelihood ratio tests indicated that the growth of the cownose ray was best described by a combined sexes Gompertz model. Median size at 50% maturity was determined to be 642 mm DW for males and 653 mm DW for females, or 4–5 years of age. Median pup size-at-birth was estimated to be 350 mm DW, with a gestation period of 11–12 months. In all cases, gravid females contained only one pup. Statistically significant differences were detected between growth curves for the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean. Cownose rays in the Gulf of Mexico had lower estimates of DW and K, and a higher theoretical longevity than their conspecifics in the western Atlantic Ocean. Cownose rays in the Gulf of Mexico also attain maturity at a smaller size and earlier age than their counterparts in the western Atlantic Ocean.

Keywords

batoid elasmobranch age and growth reproduction size at maturity 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Fisheries InstituteLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeU.S.A.

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