UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Relationship between Mean Length at Maturity and Maximum Length in Coral Reef Fish Chu, Elaine; Pauly, D. (Daniel)


This article proposes a mechanism that triggers first maturation and spawning in coral reef (bony) fish, which allows for predicting their length at first maturity. Thus, mean lengths at first maturity (Lm) and the corresponding maximum lengths (Lmax) in 207 populations of 131 species of coral reef fish were assembled and used to test the hypotheses that (a) there is, in coral reef fish, a single value of a size-related parameter acting as a trigger for their maturation and eventual spawning, and (b) that this single value is statistically the same as that published previously for other bony fish. The results, based on the assembled Lm and Lmax data and on estimates of the parameter D, which link the length of fish with the relative surface of their gills, covered 44 families and Lmax values ranging from 1.8 to 181.6 cm and confirmed that the threshold in (a) exists. Also, we assessed (in b) that this threshold value, i.e., LmaxD/LmD = 1.35 (±0.02), is not statistically different from similar estimates for other groups of teleosts, notably semelparous salmonids, cichlids, sturgeons and Chinese and Turkish freshwater and marine fish. One implication is that given ocean warming and deoxygenation, coral reef fish will not only be smaller than they currently are, but also mature and spawn at smaller sizes, and thus produce fewer, smaller eggs.

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CC BY 4.0