TERRAPUB Aqua-BioScience Monographs


Vol. 2 (No. 1), pp. 1-42, 2009 doi:10.5047/absm.2009.00201.0001

Life History and Evolution of Migration in Catadromous Eels (Genus Anguilla)

Jun Aoyama

Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 1-15-1, Minamidai, Nakano, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan

(Received on May 19, 2008; Accepted on February 4, 2009; Published online on March 3, 2009)

Abstract: A variety of ecological information from both temperate and tropical eels of the genus Anguilla provided the first chance to evaluate the relationship between their life history patterns and phylogenetic relationships. Recent studies indicated that much shorter migrations of a few hundred kilometers are made by tropical eels to spawn in areas near their freshwater habitats, clearly contrasting with the long distance migrations of their counterparts in temperate regions, such as European A. anguilla, American A. rostrata and Japanese eels A. japonica. Molecular phylogeny indicated that the species inhabiting tropics such as A. borneensis in Borneo or A. mossambica in the Indian Ocean are likely to be the most ancestral. These findings suggested a scenario of these tropical species with short migration giving rise to temperate species with long migrations.
This paper outlines the recent findings on the ecology of anguillid species such as their spawning sites, larval migrations, recruitment, growth phase and down stream migrations as well as their molecular phylogenetic relationships and population genetics. Based on these findings, the present state of our understanding about the evolution of migration in the genus Anguilla and future perspectives are discussed.

Keywords: Anguilla, phylogeny, life history, migration, ecology, evolution


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