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Reproductive dynamics and nursery habitat preferences of two commercially important Indo-Pacific red snappers Lutjanus erythropterus and L. malabaricus


Red snappers were examined for reproductive biology and age-0 habitat preferences. Spawning in red snappers occurred throughout the year in northern Australia and eastern Indonesia; at least 10–30% of females and 40–80% of males were in ripe or spawning condition in most months. Northern Australian populations showed a spawning peak from July to December (L. erythropterus) and September to March (L. malabaricus). Eastern Indonesian L. malabaricus had a less defined pattern with two peaks: January–March and October. Size at first maturity was 240 mm for males and 250–300 mm for females. L 50 estimates were similar between species in northern Australia: 270–280 mm (males) and 350–370 mm (females). Maximum batch fecundity was 676,100 oocytes for L. erythropterus and 997,000 oocytes for L. malabaricus. Higher mean abundances of age-0 L. erythropterus were found in silty and coarse sand/rubble estuarine habitats of northern Australia (456 ± 119 fish/km2) compared with sandy coastal habitats (5 ± 3 fish/km2). Most age-0 snapper caught at Sape (eastern Indonesia) were L. malabaricus (91%) with mean abundances of 312 ± 14 fish/km2. The similarities in the reproductive characteristics of red snappers suggest that successful management approaches adopted in northern Australia should be considered in eastern Indonesia.

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We thank the eastern Indonesian fisheries staff; Mujimin and Noto for coordinating and collecting red snapper samples in eastern Indonesia. Stephanie Boubaris, Mike Elmsley, Chris Errity and Chris Tarca from Northern Territory Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development helped collect the northern Australian samples. We would also like to thank Don Heales and Shane Griffiths for coordinating and participating in field surveys in northern Australia. We are also grateful to Bill Passey of FV Ocean Harvest and Clive Perry of FV Reef Venture for supplying red snapper samples from northern Australia. Steve Blaber and John Salini made constructive comments on the draft manuscript. This project was partly funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR FIS 97/165).

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Correspondence to Gary Fry.

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Fry, G., Milton, D.A., Van Der Velde, T. et al. Reproductive dynamics and nursery habitat preferences of two commercially important Indo-Pacific red snappers Lutjanus erythropterus and L. malabaricus . Fish Sci 75, 145–158 (2009).

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  • Age-0
  • Eastern Indonesia
  • Habitat preference
  • Lutjanidae
  • Northern Australia
  • Red snappers
  • Reproduction