Interspecific differences in growth of somatic and reproductive tissues during the breeding season in Menidia menidia and M. beryllina

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The annual atherinid fishes, Menidia menidia and M. beryllina, are extremely similar morphologically, but appear to differ in their energetics and life histories. They emerge from winter in relatively emaciated condition. Menidia menidia males and females showed little change in carcass weight but significant increases in gonad weight in March and April prior to spawning in May. Female liver weight increased in March and remained high. Thus, this species had reached its reproductive size in the autumn and allocated its energy to gonadal growth during the spring. Menidia beryllina showed no significant increases in weight until early May, when carcass, liver and gonad all increased simultaneously, a pattern very different from its congener. The later spawning of M. beryllina is probably due both to its need for carcass growth in spring prior to spawning and to its apparent requirement for warmer water for growth. Females of both species invested more into liver and gonad than did males. Maximum gonadosomatic index was about twice as large for M. menidia males as for M. beryllina males, but the index was similar for females of both species.

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Journal of Fish Biology