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Environmental determinants of growth rates for larval Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus in different waters

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Do disparate mechanisms determine growth rates of fish larvae in the different regions? The relationship between growth rates and environmental factors (sea temperature and food availability) was examined for larval Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus in geographically and environmentally different waters, through sagittal otolith microstructure analysis. Recent 3-day mean growth rates directly before capture were positively related with sea-surface temperature (SST) but not with food availability (plankton density) for the larvae in the Kuroshio Extension and Kuroshio–Oyashio transition regions of the western North Pacific. On the contrary, variations in recent growth rates were attributed to food availability (plankton density) as well as SST for the larvae in the East China Sea. In the shirasu fishing ground in Sagami Bay, larval growth rates were variable under the influences of both SST and food availability (feeding incidence). On the surface, the growth–environment relationships seemed to differ among regions. However, a definite general pattern of the dome-shaped relationship between recent growth rates and SST was observed when all the regions were combined. Growth rates were similar even among clearly different regions if at the same SST. Overall, growth rates roughly increased with SST until they reached the maximum at SST of 21–22°C (i.e. optimal growth temperature), and declined when SST went over 21–22°C. On the contrary, no clear relationship was observed between growth rate and plankton density or between SST and plankton density. Therefore, the apparent among-region differences would be firstly caused by the differences in regional SST range. The systematic mechanism of growth determination for widespread pelagic fish species larvae would be run by primarily sea temperature and secondarily food availability, at the species level.
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Keywords: early life history; food availability; growth rate; larval Japanese anchovy; otolith microstructure analysis; sea temperature

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Aquatic Bioscience, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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