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Mature Sex Full VERIFIED Length

Toward the end of the follicular phase, high estrogen levels trigger your pituitary gland to release a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), the hormone associated with the luteal phase. LH activates the mature egg to escape the follicle and the ovary (ovulation).

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The average menstrual cycle lasts from 28 to 35 days. The follicular phase ranges from 14 to 21 days. The luteal phase lasts about 14 days. Unlike the luteal phase, which stays fairly consistent, the length of your follicular phase may vary at different stages of your life.

Starting in your late 30s, your FSH levels may still increase during your follicular phase, but your LH levels may not spike as they did previously. As a result, the follicle may mature faster than the egg inside and release it too soon. These eggs may not be viable for pregnancy.

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This paper focuses on the reproductive biology of the Mutton Hamlet, Alphestes afer, a fish belonging to the family Epinephelidae, and aims to provide information on the main reproductive parameters of the species on the north coast of the state of Pernambuco, northeastern Brazil. From a total of 783 individuals, collected between March 2007 and June 2010, and from February to November 2014, the gonads of 322 fishes (235 females and 87 males) were analyzed, for the identification of sex and maturational stages. Females were more abundant and larger than males, with a sex ratio of 2.4 females: 1 male, during the reproduction season. The size at first maturity (L50) was estimated at 16.8 cm total length for females, and 16.2 cm for males. The gonadosomatic index (GSI) indicated that a reproductive cycle occurs all year round, while reproduction takes place from June to November. The fecundity of Alphestes afer ranged from 105,317 to 270,192 oocytes, averaging 173,458 oocytes. The females are more abundant than males due to the process of protogyny and also because individuals are regularly captured at growth stages above the L50, being a positive aspect for the sustainability of the fishery. According to the GSI, the species presents a split-type spawning with two peaks occurring throughout the year.

Alphestes afer is frequently found in reefs, near coasts or islands. The species is characterized by its robust, small, and laterally compressed body, brown colored with orange little dots, and dark-brown spots, with small and hard scales, rarely reaching a total length of 30 cm (Craig et al. 2006). Alphestes afer is a diachronic hermaphrodite species, changing sex in a protogynic mode, in two different ways: either immature females transform into primary males, or females at mature, spent, or resting stages transform into secondary males (Marques and Ferreira 2011).

This study was carried out in two phases, from March 2007 to November 2010, and from February to November 2014. During these periods, sample fishes were collected monthly from fishermen at Itamaracá, north of the state of Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil. The individuals were caught by artisanal fishing boats using fish traps, which were submersed to depths ranging from 30 to 50 m. All samples were stored on ice and taken to the laboratory, where total weight (TW), gutted weight (GT), and total length (TL) were measured. Gonads were removed and submitted to histological processing and analysis. A small section of the gonads of all the sampled specimens was dehydrated using alcohol, cleared with xylene, embedded in paraffin, sectioned on the microtome (5 μm thick), and then stained with hematoxylin and eosin (Mackie and Lewis 2001).

From a total of 783 individuals collected, 322 had the gonads analyzed (235 were females, and 87, males) for the identification of sex and maturational stages, using both macro- and microscopic developmental characteristics (adapted from Brown-Peterson et al. 2011). The reproductive development of a fish comprises five reproductive stages, both for females and males: immature, developing, mature, spent, and resting. The gonadosomatic index (GSI) was calculated as

The size at first sexual maturity (L50) was estimated using a logistic curve (Brown and Rothery 1993), comparing the relative maturation of individuals and their total length; immature specimens were excluded. The period of spawning was evaluated by the monthly distribution of frequencies of the different maturational stages, using the GSI of mature females as a reference (Vazzoler 1996). To evaluate the sexual ratio (both monthly and by length class), 667 specimens were used (503 females and 164 males). The statistical significance of differences in sexual proportion between males and females was determined through a Chi-squared test (X2; p

Fecundity was estimated by the gravimetric method proposed by Hunter et al. (1985), according to which a sample of 0.5 g is removed from a median portion of six mature ovaries to count the actual number of hydrated oocytes. Then, results are applied to the equation:

Absolute frequency distribution of length classes for males and females of mutton hamlet, caught to the north of Pernambuco, northeastern Brazil, from March 2007 to June of 2010 and from February to November 2014.

Among the 235 females examined for gonad maturation, 19 were immature, 66 were developing, 78 were mature, 15 were spent, and 57 were resting. In the developing stage, the oocytes were already developing, but were still not ready for spawning. Alveolar-cortical oocytes (AC) and oocytes in primary vitellogenesis (Vtg1) were present in this stage. In the ovaries in the mature stage, the presence of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and post-ovulatory follicles (POF) was observed, while those in spent stage presented atresic oocytes (A). Females in resting stage, showed thin-walled ovaries not reproductively active, that presented blood strings (BS) and primary growth (PG; Figure 2).

The developing stage occurred in almost all months of the year, except for April and November. Females with resting ovaries did not occur in August and December, while spent females occurred in January, February, April, September, and November. Finally, mature females were found in April and from July to January (Figure 3A). Among the 87 males examined for maturation, 5 were immature, 34 were developing, 27 were mature, with testicles reaching their biggest size, and occupying up to 90% of the abdominal cavity, 6 were spent, and 15 were resting. The developing stage was the most commonly found (20.7%). Immature males were observed only in January, February, and September, while mature males were found from July to December (Figure 3B).

Females of A. afer from the northern coast of Pernambuco were about two times more abundant than males (2.4:1, female to male ratio) in the reproduction season, with the highest abundance occurring in the largest length classes. This is likely a consequence of the protogyny exhibited by the species, i.e. most specimens are born as females and after the second or third reproduction (adult individuals from the largest length classes), they change their sex (Heemstra and Randall 1993). Such a sex change was also mentioned by Marques and Ferreira (2011) in a reproductive study of A. afer done in the south coast of Pernambuco. They observed immature bisexual and transitional individuals (presenting both ovarian and spermatic tissues), with immature females becoming immature males.

The length-frequency distribution found in this study could probably not express the real size structure of the population, due to fishing gear (fish traps) selectivity. Moreover, it is probable that this species presents a different length-frequency distribution by depth, with smaller and larger individuals not occurring in depths where the traps were set (approximately 40 m). However, even with fishing gear selectivity, the total length ranges registered in this study for A. afer, are within the generally described ranges for this genus, with sizes varying from 13 to 33 cm for species like A. afer, A. immaculatus, and A. multigutattus (Heemstra and Randall 1993).

The highest monthly average values of GSI for females compared to males, during the spawning months, indicates that females present heavier gonads, mainly because they have larger body lengths than males. The monthly mean variation of the GSI for both males and females, with its highest values in August, indicates a seasonal reproductive cycle with spawning occurring mainly during the second semester. That is an intermediary period from the end of the rainy season (finishing in July) and the start of the dry season (finishing in December). According to the Agência Pernambucana de Águas e Clima (APAC), the rainy season in the littoral of Pernambuco occurs from March to July, but during August, significant rainfall can still occur in this region (APAC 2014). Therefore, it is likely that A. afer starts to spawn at the end of the rainy season of Pernambuco to take advantage of the high concentration of food. The effect of river discharges (nutrients) on the coastal environment generates high concentrations of primary biomass soon after the rainy season, between September and October, initiating a spring bloom in the Pernambuco region (Ressurreição et al. 1996). According to Araújo (2009), this correlation with the period of greatest water supply is a reproductive tactic to potentiate the success of spawning, since there is greater food availability after rainfall, thus reducing the threat of predation of eggs and larvae. This result was similar to the ones found by Ferreira (1993) for two species of the family Epinephelidae, Plectropomus maculatus and P. leopardos, in Australian reefs, where they present a reproductive period from September to November. Gaspare and Bryceson (2013), analyzing Epinephelus malabaricus from Mafia Island, observed mature females from September to December and mature males from September to February. According to these authors, the spawning occurs in this period of the year, right after the rainy season, due to an increase in the concentration of nutrients in coastal areas, promoting a greater development of zooplankton, which serve as food for the larvae of E. malabaricus. 041b061a72


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