Skipped spawning in fishes: More common than you might think

Rick M. Rideout, Jonna Tomkiewicz

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The traditional view of iteroparity in fishes is one of an annual reproductive cycle that culminates each year in spawning. More recently, a more flexible view of fish reproduction has been adopted, including the potential for mature fish to skip spawning. Here, we review the abundance of recent research on skipped spawning, covering a broad range of fishes with diverse life history strategies. Evidence for skipped spawning has been collected by use of traditional histological techniques as well as modern technological advances, such as satellite tags and the ability to track fish movements based on elemental and isotope signatures. Skipped spawning is most commonly attributed to deficient diet and poor nutritional condition. Advances made in this field of study in recent years include descriptions of hormonal changes that precede and perhaps initiate skipped spawning, the development of life history models that incorporate the potential for skipped spawning, and estimates of the degree to which skipped spawning influences the reproductive potential of fish populations. In addition to summarizing this new research, we attempt to advance current knowledge by (1) providing the first review discussion of skipped spawning in males, (2) exploring skipped spawning in anadromous fishes by using the Atlantic salmon Salmo salar as an example, and (3) discussing the potential for and difficulties in identifying skipped spawning in species with indeterminate fecundity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine and Coastal Fisheries
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)176-189
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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