Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 301–316 | Cite as

Maturity, fecundity, and reproductive cycle of the spotted ratfish, Hydrolagus colliei

  • Lewis A. K. BarnettEmail author
  • Ryan L. Earley
  • David A. Ebert
  • Gregor M. Cailliet
Original Paper


Size at maturity, fecundity, and reproductive periodicity were estimated for the spotted ratfish, Hydrolagus colliei (Lay and Bennett, 1839), off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington. Maximum body size and size at median maturity were greater for females than males. Skeletal muscle concentrations of the steroid hormones testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) predicted similar, but slightly smaller sizes at maturity than the morphological criterion. Stage of maturity for males was estimated identically using internal organs or external secondary sexual characters, thus allowing non-lethal maturity assessments. Size at median maturity was greater north of Point Conception for females, and north of Cape Mendocino for males. Peak parturition occurred from May to October, with increased concentrations of E2 in skeletal muscle of females correlating with ovarian recrudescence during November to February. No significant seasonal trends in female T were apparent, but mean female 11-ketotestosterone (11KT) was 300% greater in April than any other month during the parturition season. There was a marginal evidence for increased number and size of ova with maternal size. Extrapolation of the hypothesized 6 to 8-month egg-laying season to observed mean parturition rates of captive specimens yielded an estimated annual fecundity of 19.5–28.9 egg cases. Differences in fecundity among higher taxonomic classifications of chondrichthyans were detected with chimaeriform fishes more fecund than lamniform, myliobatiform, squaliform, and rhinobatiform fishes, and less fecund than rajiform fishes.


Parturition Season Mature Ovum Annual Fecundity Maternal Size Oviducal Gland 



This project was made possible by cooperation and assistance in sample collection provided by the NOAA NMFS Northwest Fishery Science Center, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Jonathan Cusick and the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program, and as Don Pearson and the NOAA NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center Fisheries Ecology Division. Thanks to Gilbert Van Dykhuizen for providing essential data regarding captive mating and parturition. This study was supported by funds from NOAA/NMFS to the National Shark Research Consortium, Pacific Shark Research Center, and in part by the National Sea Grant College Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under NOAA Grant no. NA04OAR4170038, project number R/F–199, through the California Sea Grant College Program and in part by the California State Resources Agency. Additional funding was provided by grants from the PADI Foundation, Dr. Earl H. Myers and Ethel M. Myers Oceanographic and Marine Biology Trust, Western Division of the American Fisheries Society, and San Jose State University to LAKB. The methods used in this study comply with the current laws of the United States of America.

Supplementary material

227_2008_1084_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.1 mb)
Appendices 1 to 11 (DOC 2275 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lewis A. K. Barnett
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ryan L. Earley
    • 3
  • David A. Ebert
    • 1
  • Gregor M. Cailliet
    • 1
  1. 1.Pacific Shark Research Center, Moss Landing Marine LaboratoriesMoss LandingUSA
  2. 2.Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Fisheries Ecology DivisionNOAA FisheriesSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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