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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 689:95-107 (2022)  -  DOI:

Environmental DNA detects a possible Japanese eel spawning event near a video-recorded anguillid eel in the open ocean

Aya Takeuchi1,*, Takatoshi Higuchi2, Mari Kuroki1, Shun Watanabe3, Michael J. Miller1, Tatsufumi Okino4, Tetsuya Miwa5, Katsumi Tsukamoto1

1Department of Aquatic Bioscience, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan
2International Coastal Research Center, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 1-19-8 Otsuchi, Iwate 028-1102, Japan
3Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Agriculture, Kindai University, 3327-204 Nakamachi, Nara 631-8505, Japan
4Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0810, Japan
5Institute for Marine-Earth Exploration and Engineering, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 2-15 Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka, Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Facultative catadromous eels migrate back to the sea to reproduce, but their spawning behavior and locations have remained elusive. Using environmental DNA (eDNA), we identified a likely spawning site location and time of spawning of the Japanese eel. We detected Japanese eel eDNA at 400 and 600 m and recorded a likely sighting of this species at about 220 m using a deep-tow camera system 6 d before the new moon. A strong eDNA signal was obtained at 400 m from the apparent spawning event the morning after the estimated peak of eel spawning, 3 d before the new moon. These findings indicate that Japanese eels were already within the area where they were going to spawn at least 6 d before the new moon and then may have spawned near the strong eDNA station 3 d before the new moon. We concluded that the eDNA analysis is useful in searching for spawning sites and determining the timing of spawning of aquatic organisms with external fertilization that causes a temporary surge in eDNA, although prior knowledge of likely spawning sites is needed.

KEY WORDS: Anguilla japonica · eDNA · Eels · Spawning ecology · Species-specific detection · Underwater camera systems

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Cite this article as: Takeuchi A, Higuchi T, Kuroki M, Watanabe S and others (2022) Environmental DNA detects a possible Japanese eel spawning event near a video-recorded anguillid eel in the open ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 689:95-107.

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