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Diel vertical migration of myctophid fishes (Family Myctophidae) in the transitional waters of the western North Pacific




The diel vertical migration patterns of adult myctophid fishes were determined in the transitional waters of the western North Pacific off Japan, using day–night sampling from 20 to 700 m depths with a commercial otter trawl in the summer of 1995. A total of 12 species belonging to 9 genera were collected. Four patterns were recognized in the diel vertical migration of 11 of the 12 species. (1) Migrants showing clear day–night habitat separation with peak abundance above 200 m at night: Symbolophorus californiensis, Tarletonbeania taylori, Notoscopelus japonicus, Diaphus theta, Ceratoscopelus warmingi, and Diaphus gigas. (2) Semi-migrants, in which part of the population often remains in the daytime habitat at night. The distribution depths of migratory and nonmigratory individuals do not overlap: Stenobrachius leucopsarus. (3) Passive-migrants, in which there is no separation of day–night habitats, but the upper limit of daytime distribution depth shifts to a shallower layer at night, probably as the fish follow migratory prey: Lampanyctus jordani. (4) Nonmigrants: Stenobrachius nannochir, Lampanyctus regalis (> 140 mm SL), and Protomyctophum thompsoni. The day–night habitat temperature ranges are also given for the 11 species. No remarkable east–west differences were seen in the vertical migration patterns compared with previous knowledge of eight of these species in the eastern Pacific. The diel migration patterns are newly described for three other species endemic to the western Pacific. The standing stock of myctophids in the study area was conservatively estimated at 18.5 ± 4.7 g m−2 (avg. ± SD).