MEPS 188:193-200 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps188193

Distribution and dispersal of anguillid leptocephali in the western Pacific Ocean revealed by molecular analysis

Jun Aoyama1,*, Noritaka Mochioka2, Tsuguo Otake1,**, Satoshi Ishikawa1, Yutaka Kawakami2,***, Peter Castle3, Mutsumi Nishida4,****, Katsumi Tsukamoto1

1Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 1-15-1 Minamidai, Nakano, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan
2Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University, 6-10-1, Hakozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812, Japan
3School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6000, New Zealand
4Department of Marine Bioscience, Fukui Prefectural University, 1-1 Gakuen-cho, Obama, Fukui 917-0003, Japan
Present addresses:
**Faculty of Bioresources, Mie University Kamihama-cho, Tsu, Mie 514-8507, Japan
***Faculty of Fisheries, Hokkaido University 3-1-1 Minato-cho, Hakobate, Hokkaido 041-8611, Japan
****Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 1-15-1, Minamidai, Nakano, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan

ABSTRACT: To determine the distribution and dispersal of leptocephalus larvae of freshwater eels Anguilla spp. in the western Pacific, mitochondrial DNA sequences of 63 larvae were compared with those of adults. All larvae were definitively identified as 1 of the following 6 species: A. marmorata, A. bicolor pacifica, A. reinhardtii, A. australis, A. megastoma or A. japonica. Species-specific patchiness in the distribution of these leptocephali in the western Pacific was apparent. A. marmorata showed 2 different areas of patchiness in both the North and South Pacific (around 15° N and 10° S). Horizontal distributions of anguillid leptocephali are apparently closely related to the freshwater habitat of adults by way of ocean currents. Accordingly, specific dispersal routes of leptocephali from likely spawning areas to their freshwater habitats are suggested.

KEY WORDS: Leptocephali · Anguilla · Western Pacific · DNA identification · Dispersal · Spawning areas

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