[2018 AWARD WINNING PAPER] Ontogenetic habitat shift of age-0 Japanese flounder Paralichthys olivaceus on the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan: differences in timing of the shift among areas and potential effects on recruitment success

2018 Award of Excellence for the Science Papers

Fish Sci (2018) 84:173-187


Yutaka Kurita, Yuji Okazaki, Yoh Yamashita


Ontogenetic habitat shift and feeding habits in the shallow (< 15 m) and deep (30–80 m) habitats of age-0 Japanese flounder Paralichthys olivaceus in Sendai Bay, the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan, were examined to understand the mechanisms that potentially enable area-specific high recruitment success. The flounder was able to use the shallow nursery habitat for about 1 year, until the next summer of their settlement (June–August) when they had reached 250 mm total length (TL). In addition, age-0 flounder between 150 and 250 mm TL used both shallow and deep habitats from winter to the next summer of their settlement, where species, size, and availability of potential food and susceptibility to predators are considerably different. These area-specific characteristics in Sendai Bay are clearly different from other areas around Japan that have been described in the literature: shorter residence in the shallow habitat and smaller size at emigration to the deep habitat. The characteristics in Sendai Bay seem to be enabled by prolonged good feeding conditions in the shallow habitat, which result from an abundant food supply and relatively lower temperature that does not exceed the uppermost temperature (25 °C) for maximum growth of the age-0 flounder. We consider that the prolonged better feeding conditions in the shallow habitat in the study area for ca. 1 year after settlement contribute to higher recruitment success.

This article is sponsored by the coastal ecosystem complex project of the ocean resource use promotion technology development program, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.


Age-0 · Feeding habits · Ontogenetic habitat shift · Paralichthys olivaceus · Prey abundance · Recruitment success · Temperature

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