University Of Tasmania
Lokman et al 2016_reprint.pdf (3.88 MB)

Gravid spot predicts developmental progress and reproductive output in a livebearing fish, Gambusia holbrooki

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 16:28 authored by Lokman NorazmiLokman Norazmi, Gary PurserGary Purser, Jawahar PATILJawahar PATIL
In most livebearing fish, the gravid spot is an excellent marker to identify brooding females, however its use to predict progress of embryonic development, brood size, timing of parturition and overall reproductive potential of populations remain unexplored. Therefore, to understand these relationships, this study quantified visual attributes (intensity and size) of the gravid spot in relation to key internal development in Gambusia holbrooki. Observations show that the colour of the gravid spot arises from progressive melanisation on the surface of the ovarian sac at its hind margin, rather than melanisation of the developing embryos or the skin of the brooding mother. More importantly, the gravid spot intensity and size were closely linked with both developmental stages and clutch size, suggesting their reliable use as external surrogates of key internal developmental in the species. Using predictive consistency of the gravid spot, we also determined the effect of rearing temperature (23°C and 25°C) on gestation period and parturition behaviour. The results show that gestation period was significantly reduced (F = 364.58; df = 1,48; P > 0.05) at 25°C. However there was no significant difference in average number of fry parturated in the two temperature groups (P < 0.05), reaffirming that gravid spot intensity is a reliable predictor of reproductive output. The parturition in the species occurred predominantly in the morning and in contrast to earlier reports, tails of the fry emerged first with a few exceptions of head-first, twin and premature births. This study demonstrates utility of the gravid spot for downstream reproductive investigations in a live-bearing fish both in the field and laboratory. The reproducibility of the relationships (intensity with both developmental stage and clutch size), imply that they are also relevant to wild populations that experience varying temperature climes and stressors, significant deviations of which may serve as indicators of environmental health and climate variability.


Australian Research Council

Inland Fisheries Service


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Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Public Library of Science

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright: © 2016 Norazmi-Lokman et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified

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