The annual reproductive cycle of hatchery-raised largemouth bass (Florida subspecies Micropterus salmoides floridanus) was characterized over a one-year period. Largemouth bass have a distinct annual reproductive cycle with a spring spawning season (approximately between mid-January and mid-June). Cycle characterization focused on an evaluation of gonadal development and plasma concentrations of several sex steroids and vitellogenin (VTG). Adult largemouth bass (n = 20: 10 females and 10 males) were collected monthly from hatchery ponds for one full calendar year. Plasma samples were analyzed for estradiol-17?? (E2), 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT), testosterone (T), progesterone (P), and VTG. Gonadal tissues were weighed to calculate gonadosomatic index (GSI) and evaluated histologically to characterize reproductive stage. In both sexes, GSI began to increase in November, and peaked in February-March. Increases in gonad weights were correlated with maturation of gonads as evidenced by histological evaluations. Bass exhibited seasonal changes in plasma sex steroids and VTG. In males, 11-KT was the only sex steroid that showed strong seasonality, with highest values in February. In females, although E2 and T concentrations followed a similar annual cycle, with highest and lowest values in February and August, respectively, the strongest pattern was observed with E2. 11-KT concentrations were less variable across months, and values were about half of those observed in males. In females, P peaked two months after E2, with high values still in May and June and decreased thereafter, and VTG began to increase in October, but peaked a month prior to the observed peaked in E2. VTG was also detected in males but at concentrations that were about 1/12 that of females, and no seasonal pattern was evident. This study is the first to fully characterize the seasonal endocrine cycle for largemouth bass. These data will be useful when conducting reproductive evaluations of free-ranging populations of largemouth bass and for assessing potential reproductive effects due to environmental contaminants in this species. ?? 2002 by the American Fisheries Society.
Additional publication details
Characterization of annual reproductive cycles for pond-reared Florida largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides floridanus