MEPS 309:233-246 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps309233

Contrasting patterns of growth and migration of tropical anguillid leptocephali in the western Pacific and Indonesian Seas

Mari Kuroki1,*, Jun Aoyama1, Michael J. Miller1, Sam Wouthuyzen2, Takaomi Arai3, Katsumi Tsukamoto1

1Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 1-15-1 Minamidai, Nakano, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan
2Research Center for Oceanography, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Ancol Timur, Jakarta 11480, Indonesia
3International Coastal Research Center, Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 2-106-1 Akahama, Otsuchi, Iwate 028-1102, Japan

ABSTRACT: In order to improve understanding of the larval migration and early life history characteristics of 4 tropical eels, Anguilla marmorata, A. bicolor pacifica, A. celebesensis and A. borneensis, the leptocephali, metamorphosing leptocephali and oceanic glass eels collected during 8 cruises in the western Pacific and Indonesian Seas from 1991 to 2002 were analyzed. The leptocephali of A. celebesensis and A. borneensis were collected only in close proximity to their relatively small species ranges in the Indonesian Archipelago and were found to have faster growth than the other 2 species with small-scale local migrations. The more widely distributed species A. marmorata and A. bicolor pacifica were collected in most sampling areas. Small leptocephali of A. marmorata were collected only to the west of the Mariana Islands, and only larger specimens, metamorphosing leptocephali, or oceanic glass eels of both species were collected in the Indonesian Seas. These distributions suggested that the 2 species have intermediate-scale migrations compared to other anguillid eels. The leptocephali of all 4 species appeared to reach a fully grown size of around 50 mm, which is considerably smaller than the maximum size of temperate anguillid leptocephali, and their growth was predominantly faster than that of temperate species. These data and recently derived molecular phylogenetic relationships among all anguillid species in the world suggest that the long spawning migrations of temperate eels evolved from much shorter migrations of tropical species, whose larval growth was faster and whose maximum larval sizes were smaller.

KEY WORDS: Leptocephalus · Eel · Otolith · Growth · Metamorphosis · Migration

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