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Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

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Abstract/ Summary

Growth histories of yellow-phase American eels Anguilla rostrata collected in four rivers in Maine, were back-calculated from sagittal otolith increments. Our objectives were to first determine whether sexually dimorphic growth rates exist and then compare the growth histories of American eels from four rivers within a geographic region. For female eels, the maximum growth rate was 31.9 +/- 1.7 mm/year at age 8, decreasing to 25.1 +/- 2.9 mm/year at age 14. Males attained a maximum of 29.8 +/- 1.6 min/year at age 3, decreasing to a minimum of 17.9 +/- 1.3 mm/year at age 11. Females grew faster than males after age 4 and had a slower reduction in growth rate with age. These faster growth rates among females were similar in all four rivers. The observed growth rates are not consistent with current life history hypotheses and may indicate an alternative life history strategy. Because female eels benefit from a larger size (i.e., size refuge, increased fecundity, and greater niche breadth), they would benefit from a higher-risk growth strategy that increases growth rate during their earlier years and reduces the amount of time spent in an unfavorable size-class. The tradeoffs (i.e., mortality, developmental rate, pathogen resistance, and longevity) associated with this faster growth rate may not favor the males' life history requirements. Male eels do not achieve the size of females and therefore are not subject to the advantages associated with being larger. Therefore, they may use a risk-averse strategy that maintains submaximum growth rates to obtain the minimum size necessary to mature and complete the spawning migration while reducing the adverse affects of faster growth rates. We postulate that, in eels, intrinsic growth rates should be considered a life history trait that has evolved to meet the life history requirements of each sex.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Oliveira K, McCleave JD. Sexually Different Growth Histories of the American Eel in Four Rivers in Maine. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 2002;131(2): 203-211.




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