Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! : reproductive strategies and fecundity regulation in temperate marine teleosts

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


In fisheries management the spawning stock biomass (SSB) is an important indicator of the status of exploited fish stocks. Knowledge on the reproductive biology is essential to estimate SSB. A large variety of reproductive strategies is found. In marine fish two extreme strategies are known, capital spawners which have a determinate fecundity (no de novo oocyte recruitment during spawning), and income spawners which have an indeterminate fecundity (de novo oocyte recruitment during spawning). In this thesis fecundity regulating mechanisms are studied in commercial fish species with contrasting life history.

In capital spawning plaice Pleuronectes platessa and herring Clupea harengus , which spawn in autumn and/or winter, oocyte maturation starts around April when daylight length increases. Both species recruit a high number of oocytes which are down-regulated in the course of time in relation to the available energy. After the summer feeding period, when energy levels are highest, plaice shows a second recruitment phase. In herring, no difference was observed in the oocyte development between autumn and winter spawners, although winter spawners continue developing oocytes and spawn fewer but larger eggs. The income breeding horse mackerel Trachurus trachurus utilises food resources during spawning although the first batch of spawned eggs is developed on stored energy.

Food availability, through the body condition, is the most important factor regulating fecundity. In situations where food is available during the spawning season traditional determinate spawners may switch to a pseudo-indeterminate fecundity style. In conclusion this thesis shows that fecundity type of marine fish females is not fixed at the species level but represents a plastic response to the environment through food availability and energy allocation.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Rijnsdorp, Adriaan, Promotor
  • Kjesbu, O.S., Co-promotor, External person
  • Dickey-Collas, Mark, Co-promotor
Award date15 Nov 2013
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789461736253
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2013


  • teleostei
  • marine fishes
  • reproduction
  • fecundity
  • oocyte maturation
  • spawning
  • biomass
  • egg production
  • fish stocks
  • fishery biology
  • fishery management


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