Adult striped bass (Morone saxatilis) were exposed to various combinations of constant or anually-cycling daylength and water temperature. Constant conditions (15 h days, 18??C) were those normally experienced at spawning and cycling conditions simulated natural changes at Chesapeake Bay latitude. Females exposed to constant long (15 h) days and cycling water temperature (TEMPERATURE group) had blood plasma levels of sex steroids (testosterone [T] and estradiol-17?? [E2]) and vitellogenin (Vg), and profiles of oocyte growth, that were nearly identical to those of females held under a natural photothermal cycle (CONTROL group). Several fish from these two groups were induced to spawn fertile eggs. Females constantly exposed to warm water (18??C), with or without a natural photoperiod cycle (PHOTOPERIOD and STATIC groups, respectively), had diminished circulating levels of gonadal steroid hormones and Vg, impaired deposition of yolk granules in their ooplasm, and decreased oocyte growth, and they underwent premature ovarian atresia. Males exposed to cycling water temperature (CONTROL and TEMPERATURE groups) spermiated synchronously during the natural breeding season, at which time they also had had high plasma androgen (T and 11-ketotestosterone [11-KT]) levels. The timing of spermiation was highly asynchronous among males in groups of fish held constantly at 18??C (STATIC and PHOTOPERIOD groups) and this asynchrony was associated with diminished plasma androgen levels. Termination of spermiation by males exposed to cycling water temperature coincided with a sharp decline in levels of plasma androgens about a month after water temperature rose above 18??C. In contrast, most males held constantly at 18??C sustained intermediate levels of plasma androgens and spermiated until the end of the study in late July. The annual cycle of water temperature clearly plays a prominent role in the initiation, maintenance, and termination of the striped bass reproductive cycle. In females, a decrease in water temperature below values experienced at spawning appears to be required for vitellogenesis and oocyte growth to proceed normally. Constant exposure of males to spawning temperature disrupts synchronous spermiation but also delays testicular regression, which may be useful for spawning fish after the natural reproductive season.
Additional publication details
Disparate effects of constant and annually-cycling daylength and water temperature on reproductive maturation of striped bass (Morone saxatilis)