Growth patterns of larval sardine Sardinops melanostictus were studied in a coastal nursery area, in southern Japan for four monthly hatch cohorts of larvae (November, December, January and February) for the 2003–2004 and 2004–2005 seasons. Laird–Gompertz models were fitted to each cohort using both total length (LT)-at-age at capture and mean LT-at-age data derived from backcalculations. In both approaches, the absolute daily growth rates (GR) and absolute daily growth rates at the inflection point (GXO) were estimated. In parallel, individual growth rates (GI) were derived from backcalculated LT (LB). Growth showed the following general common patterns irrespective of hatch month, season and methods: (1) significant Laird–Gompertz fits, (2) asymptotic growth, (3) a decrease in GR after the inflexion point, except for February for the 2003–2004 season that showed an apparent constant growth pattern, (4) six in eight cohorts showed GXO ranging from 0·8 to 1·2 mm day−1 and (5) a decreasing tendency of GI from 1·75 to 0·24 mm day−1, from first feeding through the first month of larval life. The contrasting pattern between the 2003–2004 and the 2004–2005 seasons were: (1) allometric v. logarithmic (ln) LT and otolith radius relationships, (2) low GXOv. high GXO, (3) high GRv. low GR when growth turned asymptotic, (4) low GXOv. high GXO when monthly hatch cohorts were combined and (5) LB and GI not differing among monthly hatch cohorts. The differences in growth patterns and growth rates between seasons seemed to be linked to the influx of warmer and oligotrophic waters of the Kuroshio Current that triggered an increase of 3° C in the coastal area for the 2003–2004 seasons. In the overall context, however, the high GXO, within cohorts and seasons reported in the current study, suggests that either sea surface temperature (SST) or food availability, or both are in the optimal range of preferences for S. melanostictus larvae. Consequently, nearshore coastal areas seem to be playing an important role as a nursery area for the larval stage of this species.
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Document Type: Regular Paper
Kochi Kuroshio Research Laboratory, National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Sanbashi-dori 6-1-21, Kochi 780-8010, Japan
Sohgoh Kagaku Incorporated, 1-4-8 Minamishinmachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 540-0024, Japan
Publication date: 2008-10-01