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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Embargo Period


Degree Program

Wildlife & Fisheries Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The reproductive biology of anadromous rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax, was investigated in the Parker River and Essex Bay systems from 1977 through 1979. Variations in growth and seasonal energy content of body tissue of young-of-the-year (YOY) anadromous smelt were examined to investigate their relationships to spawning of precocious (age I) fish. By late fall of their first year, YOY that will spawn precociously in the spring have developing gonads, are longer in total length and have a higher energy content (kcals/g) of body tissue than non-precocious fish. The number of fish spawning at age I increased during the spawning season, with male precocious spawners consistently outnumbering female precocious fish.

Several aspects of the reproductive ecology of rainbow smelt were examined during the 1979 spawning season. Results from two field experiments indicated that egg survival was positively correlated with water velocity (up to 60 - 80 cm/s). Smelt spawned many more eggs (by a factor of 12 - 15) on aquatic vegetation (Podostemum ceratophyllum abrotanoides) than on two smooth-surfaced substrates (ceramic tile and gravel/ rubble). Survival to hatching on the vegetation was approximately 10% compared to a 1% rate on the other surfaces. In addition, diameter of water-hardened, unfertilized eggs was positively correlated with female total length and prolarval size at hatching. These reproductive characteristics are discussed relative to the life history strategy of anadromous rainbow smelt in the Parker River-Plum Island Sound system


First Advisor

Boyd E. Kynard