Coral Reefs

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 751–763 | Cite as

Effects of region, demography, and protection from fishing on batch fecundity of common coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus)

  • Alex B. CarterEmail author
  • Campbell R. Davies
  • Bruce D. Mapstone
  • Garry R. Russ
  • Andrew J. Tobin
  • Ashley J. Williams


Batch fecundity of female Plectropomus leopardus, a coral reef fish targeted by commercial and recreational fishing, was compared between reefs open to fishing and reefs within no-take marine reserves within three regions of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Length, weight, and age had positive effects on batch fecundity of spawners from northern and central reefs but negligible effects on spawners from southern reefs. Females were least fecund for a given length, weight, and age in the southern GBR. Batch fecundity of a 500-mm fork length female was 430 % greater on central reefs and 207 % greater on northern reefs than on southern reefs. The effects of length and age on batch fecundity did not differ significantly between reserve and fished reefs in any region, but weight-specific fecundity was 100 % greater for large 2.0 kg females on reserve reefs compared with fished reefs in the central GBR. We hypothesize that regional variation in batch fecundity is likely driven by water temperature and prey availability. Significant regional variation in batch fecundity highlights the need for understanding spatial variation in reproductive output where single conservation or fishery management strategies cover large, potentially diverse, spatial scales.


Batch spawn Coral reef fish Fishing Great Barrier Reef Marine reserve Reproduction 



Thanks to the Effects of Line Fishing Experiment for supplying the female P. leopardus samples used in this study. Financial support for the ELF Experiment was supplied by the CRC Reef Research Centre, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and GBR Marine Park Authority. ABC was supported by a James Cook University Postgraduate Research Scholarship. The ELF Experiment was conducted under permits granted to James Cook University by the GBR Marine Park Authority and Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (now Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry). Comments from two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex B. Carter
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Campbell R. Davies
    • 4
  • Bruce D. Mapstone
    • 4
  • Garry R. Russ
    • 2
  • Andrew J. Tobin
    • 1
  • Ashley J. Williams
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture and School of Earth and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER)James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia
  4. 4.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia
  5. 5.Secretariat of the Pacific CommunityNoumeaNew Caledonia

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