Spawning behavior of the tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris) in a Caribbean atoll

Starr, Richard M.Ballesteros, Enric Sala, EnricLlenas, Josep Maria. Environmental Biology of Fishes : doi:10.1007/s10641-018-0813-4 (2018)  DIGITAL CSIC

Many grouper (Epinephelidae) species aggregate to spawn at specific times of year, at consistent locations, and at specific times of day and phases of the moon. The tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris) iswidely distributed in the Caribbean Sea and aggregates to spawn just after the full moon. In January and February 2003–2005, we conducted visual surveys of a tiger grouper spawning aggregation at Glover’s Reef, Belize. The primary objectives of this study were to describe grouper spawning activities with respect to the timing of the lunar cycle, identify and describe male and female spawning behaviors, and estimate the number of grouper spawning events each day. The peak number of both male and female tiger groupers counted each year occurred from 6 to 10 d after the fullmoon. The peak count of males was 1.6–2.2 times greater than the peak count of females. Six categories of male–male and six categories of male–female interactions were identified. All male tiger groupers displayed an ability to rapidly change color; this was often triggered by a close encounter with other male or female tiger groupers. The daily spawning activity was remarkably predictable. The first spawning occurred on average 8.1 min before sunset, and the last occurred 5.1 min after sunset. On average, less than half of the females at the spawning site spawned each day, but some females spawned more than once in a given day. Females appeared to choose their mates.