Asymptotic growth trajectories of larval sardine (Sardinops melanostictus ) in the coastal waters off western Japan
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Growth trajectories of individual larvae of Japanese sardine, Sardinops melanostictus, caught in the coastal waters off western Japan were back-calculated from the first feeding stage up to date of capture (approximate size of 20 to 35 mm total length; TL) based on individually determined allometric relationships between otolith daily ring radii and fish total lengths. The larvae in January-, February-, and March-hatched cohorts in the coastal waters grew faster and more uniformly than those in the oceanic waters offshore of the Kuroshio current. Growth trajectories of the three hatch-month cohorts were similar and could be expressed by the Gompertz model. The inflection points of the growth curves were reached at 9 to 11 d after hatching, when larvae were 10.8 to 11.8 mm TL. Maximum growth rates at these points were 0.80 to 0.85 mm d−1. Growth rates gradually declined after the inflection points, and larval TLs converged into the infinite length of 29 to 32 mm, the sizes at which metamorphosis from larvae to juveniles is initiated. This asymptotic growth pattern in the larval stage resulted in the narrow ranges in TLs in spite of the wide range of ages of the larvae caught by boat seiners in the coastal waters. Slow growth and therefore long duration of the metamorphosing stage could be influential in determining the cumulative total mortality in the early life stages of the Japanese sardine.
KeywordsCoastal Water Inflection Point Oceanic Water Total Mortality Maximum Growth Rate
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