Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 30, Issue 1–2, pp 111–126 | Cite as

Reproduction and development ofSebastes in the context of the evolution of piscine viviparity

  • John P. Wourms
Reproduction and Development


Selected aspects of the reproduction and development ofSebastes and other rockfishes are reviewed in the context of piscine viviparity. Among the eight subfamilies of the Scorpaenidae, viviparity is confined to the subfamily Sebastinae; gestation is lumenal and the embryos usually develop to term within the egg envelope. Transitional states from oviparity to viviparity are evident in different species within the family. A scenario for the evolutionary origin of viviparity in rockfishes is derived from an analysis of scorpaeniform reproductive biology. Although viviparity is best developed in the genusSebastes, it is still in a primitive, unspecialized state. Rockfish viviparity is essentially lecithotrophic, i.e. embryonic nutrition is dependent on the energy reserves laid down during oogenesis. In other groups of viviparous fishes, lecithotrophy has been shown to be better suited energetically to seasonally unpredictable habitats, whereas matrotrophy requires a predictable food supply. During the evolution of an essentially primitive form of lecithotrophic viviparity in rockfishes, the advantages of high fecundity associated with oviparity were retained while an enormous increase in the survival rate of the developing embryos was acquired. The basic lecithotrophic pattern of oviparous development was not changed since it offered selective advantages both in terms of energetics and as a basis for retaining a large brood size.

Key words

Rockfish Embryonic nutrition Teleost Maternal-fetal relationship Scorpaenidae 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • John P. Wourms
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesClemson UniversityClemsonU.S.A.

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