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Schooling behaviour of juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis depends on their vision development

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Tel.: +81 742 43 6169; email: ns_torisawa@nara.kindai.ac.jp

Abstract

The effects of vision development and light intensity on schooling behaviour during growth in juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis were investigated using both behavioural and histological approaches. The schooling behaviour of three age groups [25, 40 and 55 days post hatching (dph)] of juvenile T. orinetalis were examined under various light intensities. Subsequently, schooling variables, such as the nearest neighbour distance (DNN) and the separation swimming index (ISS), were also measured under different light intensities. Furthermore, retinal indices of light adaptation in juvenile fish at each experimental light intensity and visual acuities in six stages (25–55 dph) of juveniles were examined histologically. During growth, the light intensity thresholds of ISS decreased from 5 to 0·05 lx, and DNN under light conditions (>300 lx) also decreased from 9·2 times the standard length (LS) to 1·2 times LS. The thresholds of light intensities for the light adaptation of retinas in juveniles (25–55 dph) similarly decreased from 5 to 0·05 lx with growth. In addition, the visual acuities of juveniles developed from 0·04 to 0·17 with decreasing DNN. These data clearly indicate that the characteristics of schooling behaviour strongly correspond to the degree of vision development. Juvenile T. orinetalis also appear to be more dependent on cone rather than rod cells under low light intensity conditions, resulting in a relatively high light intensity threshold for schooling. These results suggest that juveniles can adapt to darker conditions during growth by developing improved visual capabilities.

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