• bigger–deeper phenomenon;
  • demersal fish community;
  • density-dependent distribution;
  • Gadus macrocephalus;
  • Sebastolobus macrochir

ABSTRACT:  Body size dependent distribution patterns of bighand thornyhead Sebastolobus macrochir were examined using bottom trawl surveys in the Tohoku area, off the Pacific coast of northern Honshu, Japan. In northern and southern Tohoku, distribution depths of ≤10-cm standard length (SL) fish increased from 500–600 m in 2003 to 600–700 m in 2005 with an increase in density of 11–20-cm SL fish at depths of 500–600 m. In 2004–2005, small fish (≤10 cm SL) were distributed in deeper waters than large fish (11–20 cm SL). In ≤20-cm SL fish, the main distribution depths changed from 300–600 m in 1997–2002 to 500–600 m in 2003 in southern Tohoku, but not in northern Tohoku. Stepwise multiple regression analysis showed that negative correlations were found in biomass densities between a few demersal fish species and bighand thornyhead at depths of 300–400 and 400–500 m in southern Tohoku. These results suggest that distribution of bighand thornyhead was affected by intra- and interspecific competitions in the Tohoku area.