, Volume 758, Issue 1, pp 211–222 | Cite as

Estimating fecundity in the zygoparous species Helicolenus dactylopterus (Actinopterygii, Scorpaeniformes): adaptation of the gravimetric method

  • Vera Sequeira
  • Ana Neves
  • Ana Rita Vieira
  • Rafaela Barros Paiva
  • Adelino Canário
  • Leonel Serrano Gordo
Primary Research Paper


Bluemouth, Helicolenus dactylopterus is zygoparous species with internal fertilization spawning multiple batches of early-celled embryos in gelatinous masses. Its unusual reproductive strategy required methodological adjustments to estimate potential annual fecundity. The present study applied an adaptation of the gravimetric method, estimated batch fecundity based on different spawning fraction criteria (gestation, early-celled, and blastula females), and compared these estimates with the number of developing oocytes (NDOR) in the beginning of spawning to clarify the oocyte development pattern. Spawning fraction estimation based on the gestation criterion was considered the most reliable given its low variance and the subjectivity of staging early-celled embryos. On average, 87 batches were spawned with a mean spawning interval estimated at 1.73 days, and a mean relative annual total fecundity of 1,773 embryos g−1 carcass. The inexistence of a clear decreasing trend in the NDOR throughout the spawning season, and the lower NDOR estimates in females in the beginning of spawning comparing with relative annual fecundity (gestation criterion) suggests vitellogenic oocyte recruitment supporting previous results of indeterminate fecundity in Portuguese coast. The method proposed can be considered in fecundity studies of other commercial important species which extrudes gelatinous egg masses.


Fecundity estimation Reproductive strategies Zygoparity Bluemouth 



We would like to thank the crew of the trawler Sagittarius by providing the specimens used in this study. We also would like to thank three referees for their comments that largely improve the manuscript. This study was partially supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), under grants attributed to Vera Sequeira (SFRH/BPD/70200/2010), Ana Neves (SFRH/BD/92769/2013), Ana Rita Vieira (SFRH/BD/73506/2010), and Rafaela Barros Paiva (SFRH/BD/80268/2011).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera Sequeira
    • 1
  • Ana Neves
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana Rita Vieira
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rafaela Barros Paiva
    • 1
    • 2
  • Adelino Canário
    • 3
  • Leonel Serrano Gordo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.CIMAR - Centre of Marine SciencesUniversity of AlgarveFaroPortugal

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