Ichthyological Research

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 79–87 | Cite as

How Japanese anchovy spawn in northern waters: start with surface warming and end with day length shortening

  • Akira HayashiEmail author
  • Tomoaki Goto
  • Motomitsu Takahashi
  • Yoshiro Watanabe
Full Paper


Concordant with stock increase, Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus seems to expand its spawning ground northward from subtropical waters along the Kuroshio Current to subarctic waters affected by the Oyashio Current. However, the description of the northern expansion is still insufficient because quantitative analysis on distribution density of eggs and larvae has not been made and the mechanism of the expansion is still unclear. By analyzing retrospective data, quantitative increase in the distribution density of eggs and larvae in the Pacific waters off northern Japan was confirmed to have occurred with the stock increase in the 1990s. To elucidate how Japanese anchovy spawn in the Pacific waters off northern Japan, generalized additive modeling was performed using sea surface temperature (°C), day length (h) and day length difference from the day before (min) as explanatory variables. The northern expansion of the spawning ground was found to have resulted from seasonally warmed surface water (>15 °C) that occurs in early July in the subarctic Oyashio Current domain. The northern spawning ceased by early September with the shortening day length (<13.7 h). The early cessation of spawning may contribute to reproductive success in the Pacific waters off northern Japan because larvae hatched by early September would grow larger enough to survive the first winter.


Engraulis japonicus Oyashio Current Temperature Day length Spawning grounds 



The authors thank the captain and crew of R/V Iwate-Maru for collecting net samples and oceanographic data. We deeply thank Ms. Yuka Sasaki for identifying and counting anchovy eggs and larvae. We also thank the members of the Pelagic Fish Resources Group at Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute for constructive advice on the data analysis. This study was funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (no. 23248028).


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Copyright information

© The Ichthyological Society of Japan 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteUniversity of TokyoKashiwaJapan
  2. 2.Iwate Fisheries Technology CenterKamaishiJapan
  3. 3.Sanriku Fisheries Research CenterIwate UniversityKamaishiJapan
  4. 4.Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Japan Fisheries Research and Education AgencyNagasakiJapan

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