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Comparative Analysis of Reproductive Traits in Black-Chinned Tilapia Females from Various Coastal Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Ecosystems

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029464
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Anatomy And Physiology
  • Reproductive System
  • Ecology
  • Marine Biology
  • Zoology
  • Earth Sciences
  • Marine And Aquatic Sciences
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography


The black-chinned tilapia Sarotherodon melanotheron is a marine teleost characterised by an extreme euryhalinity. However, beyond a certain threshold at very high salinity, the species exhibits impaired growth and precocious reproduction. In this study, the relationships between reproductive parameters, environmental salinity and condition factor were investigated in wild populations of this species that were sampled in two consecutive years (2003 and 2004) from three locations in Senegal with different salinities: Guiers lake (freshwater, 0 psu), Hann bay (seawater, 37 psu) and Saloum estuary (hypersaline water, 66–127 psu). The highest absolute fecundity and spawning weight were recorded in seawater by comparison to either freshwater or hypersaline water whereas the poorest condition factors were observed in the most saline sampling site. These results reflect higher resource allocation to the reproduction due to the lowest costs of adaptation to salinity in seawater (the natural environment of this species) rather than differences in food resources at sites and/or efficiency at foraging and prey availability. Fecundities, oocyte size as well as spawning weight were consistent from year to year. However, the relative fecundity in the Saloum estuary varied significantly between the dry and rainy raisons with higher values in the wet season, which seems to reflect seasonal variations in environmental salinity. Such a reproductive tactic of producing large amounts of eggs in the rainy season when the salinity in the estuary was lower, would give the fry a better chance at survival and therefore assures a high larval recruitment. An inverse correlation was found between relative fecundity and oocyte size at the two extreme salinity locations, indicating that S. melanotheron has different reproductive strategies in these ecosystems. The adaptive significance of these two reproductive modes is discussed in regard to the heavy osmotic constraint imposed by extreme salinities and high inter-specific competition.

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