Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 72, Issue 4, pp 429–441 | Cite as

Age and size at sexual maturity for the winter skate, Leucoraja ocellata, in the western Gulf of Maine based on morphological, histological and steroid hormone analyses

  • James A. Sulikowski
  • Paul C. W. Tsang
  • W. Huntting Howell


We determined age and size at sexual maturity in male and female winter skates, Leucoraja ocellata, from the western Gulf of Maine. Age estimated from vertebral band counts resulted in an Index of Average Percent Error (IAPE) of 5.6%, suggesting that this method represents an accurate approach to the age assessment of L. ocellata. Size at sexual maturity was assessed by evaluating three endpoints: steroid hormone concentrations, and morphological and histological criteria. Our results suggest that 50% maturity in males occurs at a total length of 730 mm and at 11 years of age. For females, our results suggest that 50% maturity occurs at a total length of 760 mm and between 11 and 12 years of age. Collectively, our study suggests that analyzing a combination of reproductive parameters offers an accurate estimation of sexual maturity in the winter skate. Moreover, our results indicate that L. ocellata is a late-maturing and long-lived species, characteristics which make it highly susceptible to over-exploitation by commercial fisheries.


elasmobranch life history spermatogenesis estradiol testosterone 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Sulikowski
    • 1
  • Paul C. W. Tsang
    • 2
  • W. Huntting Howell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Animal and Nutritional SciencesUniversity of New HampshireDurhamU.S.A.

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