Assessment of non-lethal tools to assign sex, stage of maturity, and reproductive condition in Burbot Lota lota

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Date

2019

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science

Abstract

Non-lethal tools (plasma sex steroid concentrations and ultrasound) were assessed to assign sex, stage of maturity, and reproductive condition (non-reproductive and reproductive) in Burbot Lota lota from Lake Roosevelt, Washington. Gonadal tissue, plasma samples, and gonadal sonograms were collected from Burbot. Gonadal tissue was processed for histological analysis to describe gametogenesis and confirm sex, stage of maturity, and reproductive condition. Plasma testosterone (T) and estradiol-17beta (E2) concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay. Plasma 11-ketotestosterone (11- KT) concentrations were measured by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Gametogenesis was described by gonadal histology during the entire reproductive cycle. Plasma sex steroid profiles, gonadosomatic index, and ovarian follicle diameter were also described during the entire reproductive cycle. Plasma 11-KT concentrations were used to assign sex with 81% accuracy during the entire reproductive cycle, and plasma 11-KT and E2 concentrations were used to assign sex with 98% accuracy during the reproductive phase (i.e., November to March in Lake Roosevelt). In females, plasma T concentration, plasma E2 concentration, and month were used to assign stage of maturity with 87% accuracy, and plasma T concentration and plasma E2 concentration were used to assign reproductive condition with 98% accuracy. In males, plasma 11-KT concentration, girth at the urogenital pore, and month were used to assign stage of maturity with 73% accuracy, and plasma T concentration was used to assign reproductive condition with 90% accuracy. Ultrasound was used to assign sex with 97% accuracy, and ultrasound measurements of gonad size were a promising tool to assign stage of maturity and reproductive condition. Non-lethal tools (plasma sex steroid concentrations, gonad size measured by ultrasound, and ovarian follicle diameter) were also assessed to identify mass ovarian follicular atresia in female Burbot. Plasma T concentrations and ovarian follicle diameter were promising tools to identify mass ovarian follicular atresia. Nonlethal tools to assign sex, stage of maturity, and reproductive condition will enable fisheries biologists to assess indices of reproductive potential for the Burbot population in Lake Roosevelt. Indices of reproductive potential can be used characterize and monitor population demographics, improve models of population growth, establish sustainable harvest regulations, monitor the effects of management actions, and monitor the effects of environmental stressors.

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