Winter lipid depletion of juvenile walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma in the Doto area, northern Japan
Seasonal variation in body size and nutritional condition of juvenile walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma was examined to elucidate the mechanism underlying their first-winter survival on the continental shelf of the Doto area, northern Japan, based on monthly samples collected over 2 years. Stored lipid mass was highest during autumn, but 93% (2004) and 80% (2005) of lipids were exhausted by the onset of winter. Lipid levels in the winter of 2004 remained low (7–14% of the autumnal maximum), and there was reduced growth rate until the spring, whereas in 2005 lipid levels were higher and more variable (10–46% of the maximum) and some growth occurred. An analysis of the allometric relationships between body size and stored energy showed that larger individuals accumulated disproportionately more energy in the autumn, but the advantage disappeared prior to the winter. In January 2004, stored lipid energy was low throughout the Doto continental shelf relative to the continental slope area. These results suggest that winter feeding opportunities on the shelf are severely limited but not completely absent. Previous studies have shown that winter temperatures on the shelf are lower than those in the slope area. It is possible that juvenile T. chalcogramma survive winter on the shelf without a high level of pre-winter lipid storage because the occasional feeding in the cold shelf water benefits energy conservation.