Vertical distribution and feeding activity of metamorphosing sole, Solea solea, before immigration to the Bay of Vilaine nursery (northern Bay of Biscay, France)

  • Françoise Lagardère
  • Rachid Amara
  • Lucette Joassard
Part of the Developments in environmental biology of fishes book series (DEBF, volume 19)


To evaluate the impact of metamorphosis on the vertical distribution and feeding activity of sole, Solea solea, larvae passing from offshore spawning grounds to the Bay of Vilaine, sampling series at fixed stations were carried out in April 1991 and April 1993 at depths from 50 to 30 m. Comparisons between plankton and bottom sampling series indicated differences in vertical distribution of larvae in pre-metamorphic and metamorphic steps. Metamorphosing larvae displayed a tendency to concentrate in the lower part of the water column, mainly during the day. Gut contents, analysed for prey identification, fullness index and carbon content, indicated that metamorphosing larvae fed mostly on plankton. Variations in fullness index were observed not only during the day, but also depended on tide and wind-induced mixing conditions. Larvae sampled in mixed spring-tide waters had highly variable carbon estimates, resulting in unclear diel activity. More larvae fed actively at neap-tide, which allowed the observation of a diurnal feeding activity through hourly changes in carbon estimates. It is concluded that immigrating sole were not yet able to settle but prepared themselves for demersal life (i) without undergoing starvation and (ii) by modifying the patterns of vertical distributions. The presence of a larval swimbladder suggests they can adjust their vertical movements, depending on tidal cycles, which could in turn favour coastal accumulation of metamorphosing larvae and pulses of new settlers entering the nursery grounds.

Key words

flatfish metamorphic changes near-bottom shift planktonic diet feeding rhythm inshore transfer 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Françoise Lagardère
    • 1
  • Rachid Amara
    • 2
  • Lucette Joassard
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche en Ecologie Marine et Aquaculture de L’Houmeau (CNRS-IFREMER)L’HoumeauFrance
  2. 2.IFREMER-Centre de NantesNantesFrance

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