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Abstract

California Sheephead, Semicossyphus pulcher, is a monandric protogynous hermaphrodite and a commercially and recreationally valuable labrid. Gonadal functionality of Sheephead through sex change was reclassified into nine classes using current criteria for categorization. Female ovaries were classified as immature, early maturing, mature, and regressing/recovering classes. Transition from female to male and subsequent male development was divided into early, mid and late transitional, developing/active male and regressing/recovering male. Reproductive states in Sheephead were correlated with estradiol (E2) and 11-keto testosterone (11-KT) concentrations in the blood plasma. All sexes had low E2 concentrations in the fall /winter seasons; in transitional and male individuals, levels remained low throughout the year. In contrast, female E2 concentrations were elevated in spring and peaked in the summer. Concentrations of 11-KT were variable throughout the year; however, females had significantly lower levels in the summer. This study allows a better understanding of the current state of California Sheephead in a heavily fished area. Knowledge of a species’ reproductive characteristics is important in evaluating the sustainability of a population as it can set a baseline for reproductive potential. This research takes a critical step in gathering and organizing reproductive data such that it may be used in future studies for comparing reproductive potential across the range of the California sheephead.

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