Prenatal stress from trawl capture affects mothers and neonates: a case study using the southern fiddler ray (Trygonorrhina dumerilii)
Guida, L and Awruch, C and Walker, TI and Reina, RD, Prenatal stress from trawl capture affects mothers and neonates: a case study using the southern fiddler ray (Trygonorrhina dumerilii), Scientific Reports, (7) Article 46300. ISSN 2045-2322 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Assessing fishing effects on chondrichthyan populations has predominantly focused on quantifying mortality rates. Consequently, sub-lethal effects of capture stress on the reproductive capacity of chondrichthyans are largely unknown. We investigated the reproductive consequences of capture on pregnant southern fiddler rays (Trygonorrhina dumerilii) collected from Swan Bay, Australia, in response to laboratory-simulated trawl capture (8 h) followed immediately by air exposure (30 min). Immediately prior to, and for up to 28 days post trawling, all females were measured for body mass (BM), sex steroid concentrations (17-β estradiol, progesterone, testosterone) and granulocyte to lymphocyte (G:L) ratio. At parturition, neonates were measured for total length (TL), BM and G:L ratio. Trawling reduced maternal BM and elevated the G:L ratio for up to 28 days. Trawling did not significantly affect any sex steroid concentrations relative to controls. Neonates from trawled mothers were significantly lower in BM and TL than control animals, and had an elevated G:L ratio. Our results show that capture of pregnant T. dumerilii can influence their reproductive potential and affect the fitness of neonates. We suggest other viviparous species are likely to be similarly affected. Sub-lethal effects of capture, particularly on reproduction, require further study to improve fisheries management and conservation of chondrichthyans.