Journal Article

Reproductive biology and abundance of the white-dotted skate, <i>Bathyraja albomaculata</i>, in the Southwest Atlantic

Natalia L. Ruocco, Luis O. Lucifora, Juan M. Díaz de Astarloa and Otto Wöhler

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 1, pages 105-116
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2005.08.007
Reproductive biology and abundance of the white-dotted skate, Bathyraja albomaculata, in the Southwest Atlantic

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Size at maturity, sexual dimorphism, gonad development, and abundance of white-dotted skate, Bathyraja albomaculata, were assessed along its geographic range in the Southwest Atlantic, from Uruguay to Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). In all, 291 specimens from eight research cruises conducted between 1998 and 2003 were examined. Length–mass relationships were sexually dimorphic, adult females being significantly heavier than males of the same length. The largest female observed was 762 mm total length (LT), and 50% maturity (LT50) was attained at 653 mm LT. The largest male was 732 mm LT, and male LT50 was 628 mm LT. Female and male LT50 were not significantly different and were about 86% of observed maximum size, similar to other Bathyraja species. The lack of sexual dimorphism in size at maturity and the slight difference in maximum size between sexes support the hypothesis of relaxation of selection for large female size in oviparous elasmobranchs. Liver size was not sexually dimorphic. Mature female gonads were symmetrical in terms of mass, and similar in ovarian follicle number and size. Females carried egg cases in April, September, and October, consistent with previous observations around the Islas Malvinas and suggesting year-round egg laying. Bathyraja albomaculata was most abundant on the outer continental shelf and slope between 36°30′S and 45°S (northern area). In contrast, it was generally absent between 48°S and 52°S (southern area), a region where it was formerly reported as abundant. These differences are coincident with the development of a fishery targeting skates in the southern area, whereas in the north B. albomaculata taken as bycatch are mostly discarded alive.

Keywords: Argentina; elasmobranch; life history; oviparity

Journal Article.  6500 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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