Interpopulation variation in growth and life-history traits of the introduced sunfish, pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus, in southern England


Author's address: Gordon H. Copp, CEFAS Lowestoft Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 OHT, UK.


We examined attributes of growth and reproduction in 19 populations of pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) introduced into southern England in order to: (i) assess variability of these traits in a northern European climate; (ii) assess inter-relationships among these variables; and (iii) compare these attributes with populations from other parts of Europe where pumpkinseeds have been introduced. Growth rates varied considerably among populations, but juvenile growth rates and adult body sizes were generally among the lowest in Europe. Mean age at maturity ranged from 2.0 to 3.9, and was strongly predicted by the juvenile growth rate (earlier maturity with faster juvenile growth). Other population parameters that also displayed significant negative associations with mean age at maturity were gonadosomatic index, body condition, and adult body size (total length, TL at age 5). Mean TL at maturity and the adult growth increment showed no significant associations with any of the other growth or life-history variables. Pumpkinseed populations in England matured significantly later than those introduced into warmer, more southerly areas of the continental Europe. All of these data suggest that a combination of cool summer temperatures and resource limitation is the cause of slow growth, small adult body size and delayed maturity relative to introduced populations on the European mainland.