Life history strategies of annual killifish Millerichthys robustus (Cyprinodontiformes:Cynolebiidae) in a seasonally ephemeral water body in Veracruz, México

Abstract

The annual life cycle of Millerichthys robustus is described from an ephemeral pool in Veracruz, Mexico. The state of the pool can be divided into three periods: a flood period lasting from September to March when the pool was filled with water, a drought period from April to June when the pool was dry, and a humid period in July and August when the pool was intermittently filled. Soil substrate was examined in each of these three periods (flood, drought and humid), embryos were found, and the stage of embryonic diapause was determined. During the flood period embryos were in diapause I; during the drought period in diapause II; and during the humid period mainly in diapause III with a small subset in diapause II (an example of a bet-hedging strategy). Two hatching periods (separated by two weeks) were documented during the beginning of the flood period. Fish growth was analyzed in both males and females, with females showing an overall slower growth rate and smaller adult size. In females, ovarian maturity was characterized histologically to understand the reproductive cycle. The onset of sexual maturity began during the third week after hatching (21 days) with the presence of secondary sexual characteristics in females and the beginning of Secondary Growth Stage in some ovarian follicles. All stages of oogenesis, postovulatory follicles and ovulated oocytes were observed from the fourth week post hatching (28 days) until death. M. robustus appears to exhibit similar patterns of embryonic diapause compared to other annual killifish living in seasonal water bodies closer to the equator. This study characterizes (for the first time) the adaptations and life cycle of M. robustus. This information could be useful to evaluate the potential risk of these populations and, if necessary, to develop plans for their conservation.

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Acknowledgements

We appreciate the help and support of Victor Rosales Perez and Miguel Mosqueda with the collection of specimens in the field. To Stefano Valdesalici, Bela Nagy, Richard Martino (AKA) and Robert Meyer (AKA) for the valuable information suggested and provided, and to Comisión Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología for scholarship No. 375928. We thank the academic counseling of Bruno A. Marichal Cancino and Liliana García-Calva in this project. (Sampling, management and procedures performed in this research were authorized by SGPA/DGVS/02404/14, /2015 of the Subsecretaría de Gestión para la Protección Ambiental, Dirección General de Vida Silvestre, SEMARNAT). We also sincerely appreciate the thorough and detailed comments by the reviewers that allowed for improvement of this work.

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Correspondence to Ana María Rosales-Torres.

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Domínguez-Castanedo, O., Uribe, M.C. & Rosales-Torres, A.M. Life history strategies of annual killifish Millerichthys robustus (Cyprinodontiformes:Cynolebiidae) in a seasonally ephemeral water body in Veracruz, México. Environ Biol Fish 100, 995–1006 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-017-0617-y

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Keywords

  • Reproductive cycle
  • Growth
  • Diapause
  • Oogenesis
  • Life cycle
  • Annualism