Contrasting life history characteristics of the eightbar grouper Hyporthodus octofasciatus (Pisces: Epinephelidae) over a large latitudinal range reveals spawning omission at higher latitudes
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Demographic data on deep-water groupers are limited despite them being highly exploited throughout the Indo-Pacific. In Western Australia, the continuous distribution of the eightbar grouper, Hyporthodus octofasciatus, spans tropical to temperate waters over 3500 km from 128S–358S. The maximum age was markedly higher in the northern tropical waters than in southern temperate waters, i.e. 47 vs 20 years. Females attained a significantly larger length-at-age in southern temperate waters. Macroscopic and microscopic, examination of gonads and annual trends in mean monthly gonadosomatic indices (GSIs) were used to determine that this monandric protogynous hermaphrodite spawns from late spring to summer (October–February) in northwestern Australia. In the temperate waters of WA, there was no evidence of reproduction and no males were observed south of 308S latitude. The lengths at which 50% of female H. octofasciatus matured and changed sex were estimated from northern tropical populations at 560 mm (6.1 years) and 1022 mm (=11 years). Although the population connectivity of H. octofasciatus is unknown, the spawning omission in temperate waters suggests recruitment from the northern tropical areas and highlights the importance of preserving spawning stocks in those northern waters.
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