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In situ ontogeny of behaviour in pelagic larvae of three temperate, marine, demersal fishes
Leis, J.M.; Hay, A.C.; Trnski, T. (2006). In situ ontogeny of behaviour in pelagic larvae of three temperate, marine, demersal fishes. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 148(3): 655-669.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Leis, J.M.
  • Hay, A.C.
  • Trnski, T.

    The ontogeny of behaviour relevant to dispersal was studied in situ with reared pelagic larvae of three warm temperate, marine, demersal fishes: Argyrosomus japonicus (Sciaenidae), Acanthopagrus australis and Pagrus auratus (both Sparidae). Larvae of 5–14 mm SL were released in the sea, and their swimming speed, depth and direction were observed by divers. Behaviour differed among species, and to some extent, among locations. Swimming speed increased linearly at 0.4–2.0 cm s-1 per mm size, depending on species. The sciaenid was slower than the sparids by 2–6 cm s-1 at any size, but uniquely, it swam faster in a sheltered bay than in the ocean. Mean speeds were 4–10 body lengths s-1. At settlement size, mean speed was 5–10 cm s-1, and the best performing individuals swam up to twice the mean speed. In situ swimming speed was linearly correlated (R 2=0.72) with a laboratory measure of swimming speed (critical speed): the slope of the relationship was 0.32, but due to a non-zero intercept, overall, in situ speed was 25% of critical speed. Ontogenetic vertical migrations of several metres were found in all three species: the sciaenid and one sparid descended, whereas the other sparid ascended to the surface. Overall, 74–84% of individual larvae swam in a non-random way, and the frequency of directional individuals did not change ontogenetically. Indications of ontogenetic change in orientated swimming (i.e. the direction of non-random swimming) were found in all three species, with orientated swimming having developed in the sparids by about 8 mm. One sparid swam W (towards shore) when <10 mm, and changed direction towards NE (parallel to shore) when >10 mm. These results are consistent with limited in situ observations of settlement-stage wild larvae of the two sparids. In situ, larvae of these three species have swimming, depth determination and orientation behaviour sufficiently well developed to substantially influence dispersal trajectories for most of their pelagic period.

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