A Quick Method for Estimating Batch Fecundity in Bigheaded Carp

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Fecundity is a necessary metric to assess reproductive potential (e.g., spawning potential ratio and recruitment overfishing) in invasive fishes, yet the direct measurement of fecundity is often difficult, impractical, and time consuming. Therefore, the ability to estimate fecundity from field measurements (i.e., TL, relative weight [Wr], or ovary weight) can be a valuable tool for fisheries managers to estimate reproductive potential. The goal of this study was to relate the batch fecundity of invasive Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Bighead Carp H. nobilis to metrics that can be quickly measured to eliminate the need for direct enumeration. Silver and Bighead carp were collected from the upper Mississippi River (UMR) in the summer of 2016 and 2017. Subsamples of mature (spawning capable) ovaries were preserved, enumerated, and then related to ovary weight, TL, weight, and Wr. An equation for estimating Silver Carp batch fecundity from ovary weight in the UMR, corrected for ovary membrane weight, was developed: {ovary weight – [0.222 × (ovary weight0.7589)]} × 794 (SE = 11). Batch fecundity for Silver Carp from Pools 17–20 of the UMR averaged 1,230,930 ± 68,983 eggs (mean ± SE). Ovary weight was the strongest predictor of fecundity, but TL, weight, and Wr also showed significant relationships with fecundity for Silver Carp. Batch fecundity for Bighead Carp averaged 1,043,953 ± 82,360 eggs, but the number of eggs per gram showed significant spatial variation; therefore, no fecundity equation was developed for this species. Future work should evaluate the frequency of Silver Carp spawns within a season and how batch fecundity varies among multiple spawning events. Fecundity estimates can be used to determine spawning potential ratios, which can help in evaluating management strategies.

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North American Journal of Fisheries Management





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