Validation of a method for estimating realized annual fecundity in a multiple spawner, the long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus), using underwater visual census


Curtis, Janelle M. R.
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The long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) (Cuvier, 1829), was used to validate the predictive accuracy of three progressively realistic models for estimating the realized annual fecundity of asynchronous, indeterminate, multiple spawners. Underwater surveys and catch data were used to estimate the duration of the reproductive season, female spawning frequency, male brooding frequency, and batch fecundity. The most realistic model, a generalization of the spawning fraction method, produced unbiased estimates of male brooding frequency (mean ±standard deviation [SD]=4.2 ±1.6 broods/year). Mean batch fecundity and realized annual fecundity were 213.9 (±110.9) and 903.6 (±522.4), respectively. However, females prepared significantly more clutches than the number of broods produced by males. Thus, methods that infer spawning frequency from patterns in female egg production may lead to significant overestimates of realized annual fecundity. The spawning fraction method is broadly applicable to many taxa that exhibit parental care and can be applied nondestructively to species for which conservation is a concern.