Sympatric Spawning but Allopatric Distribution of Anguilla japonica and Anguilla marmorata: Temperature- and Oceanic Current-Dependent Sieving
by Yu-San Han, Apolinario V. Yambot, Heng Zhang, Chia-Ling Hung
Anguilla japonica and Anguilla marmorata share overlapping spawning sites, similar drifting routes, and comparable larval durations. However, they exhibit allopatric geographical distributions in East Asia. To clarify this ecological discrepancy, glass eels from estuaries in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and China were collected monthly, and the survival rate of A. marmorata under varying water salinities and temperatures was examined. The composition ratio of these 2 eel species showed a significant latitude cline, matching the 24°C sea surface temperature isotherm in winter. Both species had opposing temperature preferences for recruitment. A. marmorata prefer high water temperatures and die at low water temperatures. In contrast, A. japonica can endure low water temperatures, but their recruitment is inhibited by high water temperatures. Thus, A. japonica glass eels, which mainly spawn in summer, are preferably recruited to Taiwan, China, Korea, and Japan by the Kuroshio and its branch waters in winter. Meanwhile, A. marmorata glass eels, which spawn throughout the year, are mostly screened out in East Asia in areas with low-temperature coastal waters in winter. During summer, the strong northward currents from the South China Sea and Changjiang River discharge markedly block the Kuroshio invasion and thus restrict the approach of A. marmorata glass eels to the coasts of China and Korea. The differences in the preferences of the recruitment temperature for glass eels combined with the availability of oceanic currents shape the real geographic distribution of Anguilla japonica and Anguilla marmorata, making them “temperate” and “tropical” eels, respectively.
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