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Early life history of the American conger eel (Conger oceanicus) as revealed by otolith microstructure and microchemistry of metamorphosing leptocephali
Correia, A.T.; Able, K.W.; Antunes, C.; Coimbra, J. (2004). Early life history of the American conger eel (Conger oceanicus) as revealed by otolith microstructure and microchemistry of metamorphosing leptocephali. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 145(3): 477-488. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-004-1349-z
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Correia, A.T.
  • Able, K.W.
  • Antunes, C.
  • Coimbra, J.

Abstract
    The early life history of the American conger eel, Conger oceanicus, was studied using otolith microstructure and chemical composition in metamorphosing leptocephali collected from New Jersey estuarine waters. The age of leptocephali was estimated by counting daily growth increments. Age of early metamorphosing leptocephali at recruitment to the estuary ranged from 155 to 183 days, indicating that migration of conger eel leptocephali from their oceanic spawning ground to the estuary requires 5–6 months. Back-calculated hatching dates suggest that the spawning season lasted 3 months, from late October to mid-December. However, in the late metamorphic leptocephali, the presence of an unclear peripheral zone in the otolith prevents the accurate estimation of the larval stage duration. The calcium content was almost constant throughout the otoliths. Both strontium and Sr:Ca ratios increased with age, but dramatically decreased at age 70–120 days. The otolith increment width also showed a marked increase at the same ages, indicating the onset of metamorphosis. A negative correlation between age at metamorphosis and otolith growth rate indicates that faster growing leptocephali arrive at the estuary earlier than slower growing ones. A close relationship was also found between age at recruitment and age at metamorphosis, suggesting that individuals that metamorphosed earlier were recruited to the estuary at a younger age. This larval migration pattern appears to be similar among anguilliform fishes.

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