Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 102, Issue 9, pp 1161–1178 | Cite as

Life history of the deep-water persimmon eelpout (Eucryphycus californicus, family: Zoarcidae), and its use of drift vegetation as an ecological subsidy

  • Rachel Zuercher
  • Richard G. Kliever
  • Gregor M. CaillietEmail author


The Persimmon Eelpout (Eucryphycus californicus) is a relatively unknown, deep-sea fish inhabiting temperate marine waters on the west coast of North America. Using samples collected in the mid-1970s, the most recent targeted sampling for this species, we present basic life history attributes, and an analysis of the relationship between E. californicus and drift macrophyte habitat in the Monterey Canyon, California, USA. A diet analysis revealed that the fish consumes predominantly small crustaceans, especially amphipods and copepods, including species that associate with drift macrophyte habitat. Otoliths were analyzed to yield age estimates ranging from 0 to 6 years, and growth was modeled showing a maximum length of 203 mm for males and 271 mm for females. An analysis of the reproductive ecology of E. californicus showed that like many deep-sea fishes, females lay relatively few, large eggs. The species exhibits a protracted spawning period, and females spawn with only one functional ovary. Empirical information presented in this paper and anecdotal evidence shows that E. californicus likely relies on drift algae and seagrasses, a habitat subsidy exported to the deep-sea environment from adjacent kelp forest ecosystems, for shelter and to concentrate food resources. This example of a species dependent on an ecosystem subsidy adds to our knowledge regarding the effects of cross-ecosystem connectivity in the marine environment, and furthers our understanding of the ecology of the deep-sea macrofaunal assemblage in Monterey Bay.


Eucryphycus californicus Habitat subsidy Drift algae and seagrasses Connectivity Life history Zoarcidae 



We thank the faculty and staff of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories who supported this work with a special thanks to Peter Slattery (MLML) for his assistance with our diet analysis, Linda Kuhnz (MBARI), and Heather Kramp for their contributions. Thanks to Mark H. Carr for his helpful suggestions and comments on this work, and to two anonymous reviewers. This research complied with all relevant animal care and ethics regulations at the time that it was conducted.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecology and Evolutionary Biology DepartmentUniversity of California Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA
  2. 2.CarmichaelUSA
  3. 3.Moss Landing Marine LaboratoriesMoss LandingUSA

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