Degeneration of postovulatory follicles in the Iberian sardine Sardina pilchardus: structural changes and factors affecting resorption


Ganias, Konstantinos, Cristina Nunes, and Yorgos Stratoudakis
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Inaccuracy in the aging of postovulatory follicles (POFs) and in estimating the effect of temperature on the resorption rate of POFs may introduce bias in the determination of the daily spawning age classes with the daily egg production method (DEPM). To explore the above two bias problems with field-collected European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus, known regionally as the Iberian sardine), a method was developed in which the time elapsed from spawning (POF age) was estimated from the size of POFs (i.e., from the cross-sectional area in histological sections). The potential effect of the preservative type and embedding material on POF size and the effect of ambient water temperature on POF resorption rate are taken into account with this method. A highly significant log-linear relationship was found between POF area and age; POF area shrank by approximately 50% per day. POFs were also shown to shrink faster at higher temperatures (approximately 3% per degree), but this temperature effect is unlikely to be an important source of bias in the assignment of females to daily spawning classes. The embedding material was also shown to influence the size of POFs, the latter being significantly larger in resin than in paraffin sections. In conclusion, the size of POFs provides an indirect, reliable estimation of the time elapsed from spawning and may thus be used to test both the validity of POF staging criteria for identifying daily classes of spawners and the effect of other factors (such as temperature and laboratory processing) in applications of the DEPM to S. pilchardus and other fish species.