• anchovy;
  • growth;
  • Kuroshio current;
  • larva;
  • numerical model;
  • otolith;
  • sardine;
  • temperature;
  • transport


Environmental variability and growth-rate histories from hatching to capture were investigated for larval Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus) and Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonicus). Larvae collected around the front of the Kuroshio Current were examined using otolith microstructure analysis, and their movement was estimated from numerical particle-tracking experiments. Sardine larvae collected inshore of the Kuroshio front originated from a coastal area near the sampling site, while those collected in the offshore area originated from an area 500–800 km west-southwest of the sampling site. Anchovy larvae collected both inshore and offshore had been transported from widely distributed spawning areas located west of the sampling area. At the age of 13–14 days for sardine and 19–20 days for anchovy, the offshore group exhibited significantly higher mean growth rates than did the inshore group. Although the offshore area was generally warmer than the inshore area, temporal variations in growth rate are not attributable solely to fluctuations in environmental temperature. While previous studies have examined the relationship between larval growth rates and environment based solely on data at capture, the methods used in the present study, combining otolith analysis and numerical particle-tracking experiments, utilize data up until hatching. Although the relationship between growth rate and environment was not fully confirmed, this approach will greatly advance our understanding of fish population dynamics.