Marine Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 105–118

Morphological and histological changes during the growth and starvation of herring and plaice larvae


  • K. F. Ehrlich
    • Dunstaffnage Marine Research Laboratory
    • Department of BiologyOccidental College
  • J. H. S. Blaxter
    • Dunstaffnage Marine Research Laboratory
  • R. Pemberton
    • Dunstaffnage Marine Research Laboratory

DOI: 10.1007/BF00390932

Cite this article as:
Ehrlich, K.F., Blaxter, J.H.S. & Pemberton, R. Marine Biology (1976) 35: 105. doi:10.1007/BF00390932


Reared herring (Clupea harengus L.) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa L.) were examined for morphological and histological changes during growth and starvation. The growth rate of herring larvae of 0.22 mm/day was less than that reported for wild stock, but this difference was attributed to survival of runts in laboratory. Larval plaice had a growth rate of 0.16 mm/day. The relative condition factor (antilogarithm of intercept of length-weight line) was used to assess condition throughout the larval stages. Starvation resulted in a progressive collapse of the larval body, especially of the ventral body surface around the pectoral girdle of both species (assessed by the “pectoral angle”) and of the spacing between the organs of the head in herring. There was a breakdown of the herring gut with decreases in epithelial cell height and catabolism of the connective tissue coat and a marked reduction in the transverse sectional area of the plaice liver. The changes in the pectoral angle in both herring and plaice and the eye height to head height ratio in herring should be useful to fishery biologists for assessing nutritional condition, even on board ship.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976