Temporal and spatial dynamics of spawning, settlement, and growth of gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus) from the West Florida shelf as determined from otolith microstructures


Allman, Robert J., and Churchill B. Grimes
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The goal of our study was to understand the spatial and temporal variation in spawning and settlement of gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus) along the West Florida shelf (WFS). Juvenile gray snapper were collected over two consecutive years from seagrass meadows with a benthic scrape and otter trawl. Spawning, settlement, and growth patterns were compared across three sampling regions (Panhandle, Big bend, and Southwest) by using otolith microstructure. Histology of adult gonads was also used for an independent estimate of spawning time. Daily growth increments were visible in the lapilli of snapper 11–150 mm standard length; ages ranged from 38 to 229 days and estimated average planktonic larval duration was 25 days. Estimated growth rates ranged from 0.60 to 1.02 mm/d and did not differ among the three sampling regions, but did differ across sampling years. Back-calculated fertilization dates from otoliths indicated that juveniles in the Panhandle and Big Bend were mainly summer spawned fish, whereas Southwest juveniles had winter and summer fertilization dates. Settlement occurred during summer both years and in the winter of 1997 for the southern portion of the WFS. Moon phase did not appear to be strongly correlated with fertilization or settlement. Histological samples of gonads from adults collected near the juvenile sampling areas indicated a summer spawning period.