Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 81–100 | Cite as

Variability in rockfish (Sebastes spp.) fecundity: species contrasts, maternal size effects, and spatial differences

  • Sabrina G. Beyer
  • Susan M. Sogard
  • Chris J. Harvey
  • John C. Field


Over 60 species of rockfish (Sebastes spp.) reside off the coast of California, many of which are economically important to both recreational and commercial fisheries. Rockfish are live-bearers with a diverse array of reproductive strategies. Understanding the reproductive potential of an exploited stock is critical to assessing the health and status of a fishery. We investigated the reproductive ecology of four rockfish species to examine species contrasts and to determine spatial and maternal-size effects on reproductive potential. Females were sampled during the winter parturition season (November through March) of 2009 through 2012. Maternal length and somatic weight were positively correlated with relative fecundity (larvae per g somatic weight) in all four species, indicating a disproportionately greater reproductive output by larger, older females. Fecundity estimates in Chilipepper, S. goodei, and Yellowtail rockfish, S. flavidus, varied regionally, but did not significantly differ over time within the years sampled (sample sizes for Speckled, S. ovalis, and Blackgill rockfish, S. melanostomus, were too small to allow spatiotemporal comparisons). Two reproductive strategies were evident as Yellowtail and Blackgill rockfish produced a relatively highly fecund, single brood of smaller-sized larvae annually, in contrast to Chilipepper and Speckled rockfish, which produced larger-sized larvae with lower fecundity. In some regions multiple broods were common, complicating estimates of annual fecundity for these two species. There was some evidence that egg production was positively correlated with female condition, indicating that environmental variability in oceanographic conditions and productivity may drive changes in fecundity and reproductive strategy (i.e., single versus multiple broods).


Sebastes spp. Fecundity Maternal size Spatial effects Multiple broods 



We thank the captains J. Churchman, J. Diamond, T. Klassen, T. Mattusch, R. Powers, their crews and volunteer anglers for fishing expertise. We are grateful for the technical support provided by N. Parker, D. Stafford, N. Kashef, D. Pearson, L. Lefebrve, R. Miller, A. Payne and student interns J. Willeford, M. Helfenberger, N. Mertz, N. Nigro, K. Boreman, B. Robinson, N. Magana, K. Craig, M. Kaiser and K. Mattingly. We also thank S. Ralston, E.J. Dick and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This project was funded in part by the NOAA Fisheries and the Environment (FATE) Program, the NOAA National Cooperative Research Program and the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Fisheries Ecology Division. Blackgill rockfish collections were made possible with help from S. Rienecke at The Nature Conservancy in partnership with Morro Bay commercial fishermen. This research was approved by the University of California, Santa Cruz Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabrina G. Beyer
    • 1
  • Susan M. Sogard
    • 1
  • Chris J. Harvey
    • 2
  • John C. Field
    • 1
  1. 1.Fisheries Ecology Division, Southwest Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries Service, NOAASanta CruzUSA
  2. 2.Northwest Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries Service, NOAASeattleUSA

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