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Migration flexibility between freshwater and marine habitats of the pond smelt Hypomesus nipponensis

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The life histories of the pond smelt Hypomesus nipponensis collected from Japanese fresh waters and brackish (sea) waters were studied by examining the strontium (Sr) and calcium (Ca) concentrations in their otoliths. The Sr:Ca ratios in the otoliths changed with the salinity of the habitat. The pond smelt living in a freshwater environment showed consistently low Sr:Ca ratios throughout the otolith, averaging 1·2–1·3 × 10−3. These samples were identified as a standard freshwater type. In contrast, fish collected from the intertidal zone showed higher otolith Sr:Ca ratios than those in the standard freshwater type, and the ratios fluctuated along the growth phase. In addition to the two representative life‐history types of H. nipponensis, i. e. freshwater and anadromous life‐history types, other pond smelts were found to have an estuarine resident life history‐type with no freshwater phase, indicating that the pond smelt has a flexible migration strategy with a high degree of behavioural plasticity and an ability to utilize the full range of salinity in its life history.

Keywords: Sr:Ca ratios; diadromy; estuarine resident; life history; otolith; pond smelt

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: International Coastal Research Center, Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 2-106-1, Akahama, Otsuchi, Iwate 028-1102, Japan, 2: Center for International Cooperation, Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, Nakano, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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