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Reproductive traits and seasonal variability of Merluccius merluccius from the Tunisian coast

  • Widien Khoufi (a1), Rosalia Ferreri (a2), Héla Jaziri (a1), Safouène El Fehri (a1), Antonella Gargano (a2), Salvatore Mangano (a2), Sadok Ben Meriem (a1), Mohamed Salah Romdhane (a3), Angelo Bonanno (a2), Salvatore Aronica (a2), Simona Genovese (a2), Salvatore Mazzola (a2) and Gualtiero Basilone (a2)...


Merluccius merluccius is an economically and ecologically important demersal species inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; however, reproductive knowledge about this species, along the North African coast is still missing. Monthly samples were collected from November 2010 to October 2011 along the North Tunisian coast. Morphometric parameters were measured, and histological preparations of gonadic tissues provided detailed information on the reproductive biology. Ovary maturity data showed a protracted spawning season throughout the year, with peaks in January, April and August. In females of M. merluccius, seasonal variability in weight and length were noticed, with higher values in the first part of the study period (November–April) than from May to October. Analysing separately these two periods, significant relationships were observed between gonadic maturation indices and the somatic and gonadic indices, suggesting a seasonal differential use of energy intake. From November to May the fish alternate the use of their energy for body growth and reserves for later uses (i.e fat, muscle and liver mass) or for gonadic growth. From June to October the energy is converted mainly into gonad weight and less to somatic growth. The maturity ogives obtained by macroscopic and histological maturity staging methods showed significant differences; however, in both cases the length at first maturity estimates were around 29 cm. Nonetheless, when selecting the main spawning period, the L50 estimation was heavily reduced to 24 cm, suggesting careful attention in the selection of the samples to be used specially for fishery management purposes.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: G. Basilone, IAMC-CNR (Institute for Coastal Marine Environment of the National Research Council), Capo Granitola Via del Mare, 3, 91021 Torretta Granitola, Campobello di Mazara, Sicily, Italy email:


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Reproductive traits and seasonal variability of Merluccius merluccius from the Tunisian coast

  • Widien Khoufi (a1), Rosalia Ferreri (a2), Héla Jaziri (a1), Safouène El Fehri (a1), Antonella Gargano (a2), Salvatore Mangano (a2), Sadok Ben Meriem (a1), Mohamed Salah Romdhane (a3), Angelo Bonanno (a2), Salvatore Aronica (a2), Simona Genovese (a2), Salvatore Mazzola (a2) and Gualtiero Basilone (a2)...


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