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Spatial and temporal variations in the population size structure of three lanternfishes (Myctophidae) off Oregon, USA

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Size-frequency distributions were determined for 3 common lantern-fishes (Stenobrachius leucopsarus, Diaphus theta, and Tarletonbeania crenularis) off Oregon in the summer. The fishes were caught mainly in sound-scattering layers by a large pelagic trawl with 5 opening-closing nets. Changes in depth distribution and diel vertical migration with growth were evident for all 3 species. The size of S. leucopsarus increased markedly with depth both at 0 to 90 m at night and 250 to 500 m during the day. Larger D. theta were also found deeper during the day (between 250 and 450 m), but neither D. theta nor T. crenularis demonstrated size segregation in the upper 90 m at night. Large D. theta and small T. crenularis did not appear to migrate into surface waters at night. Age-Group O (15 to 20 mm) S. leucopsarus were most abundant in deep water (400 to 480 m) in the daytime and did not migrate into near-surface waters at night. Age-Group I (30 to 40 mm) S. leucopsarus were common at about 300 m by day and within the upper 30 m at night. Age-Group II–III (50 to 60 mm) apparently followed the evening ascent of Age-Group I fish and most resided at 75 to 90 m at night, beneath Age-Group I fish. Age-Group III+fish (70 to 80 mm) were associated with Age-Group O at 400 to 480 m by day and usually did not migrate above 200 m at night. The size structure of S. leucopsarus differed among the nets of a single tow at one depth, or between two tows that fished the same depths on successive nights, indicating horizontal patchiness in age structure. D. theta demonstrated low within-tow variability in size composition which indicated a spatially more uniform age structure on a scale of kilometers. The size structures of these 3 lanternfishes were different in the same area and the same season during two different years, suggesting variable survival of year classes or horizontal patchiness of age composition in the area sampled.

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Communicated by N. D. Holland, La Jolla

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Willis, J.M., Pearcy, W.G. Spatial and temporal variations in the population size structure of three lanternfishes (Myctophidae) off Oregon, USA. Mar. Biol. 57, 181–191 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00390736

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  • Size Structure
  • Vertical Migration
  • Diel Vertical Migration
  • Population Size Structure
  • Size Segregation