Embryonic and larval staging of summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus.


Early development of flatfishes such as the summer flounder Paralichthys dentatus (Pleuronectiformes) has not been extensively documented, largely because of a dearth of material; however, the recent expansion of flatfish aquaculture has made embryos of P. dentatus readily available for developmental studies. We divide development of P. dentatus embryos and larvae into two main periods, pre- and posthatching, and assign stages within each of those primary divisions. Stages from fertilization to hatching loosely follow the general teleost staging scheme suggested by Shardo ([1995] J Morphol 225:125–167); stages from hatching through metamorphosis are aligned with the series used for Japanese flounder, P. olivaceus (Minami [1982] Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 48:1581–1588; Fukuhara [1986] Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 52:81–91). Although length, width, and age may serve as approximate indicators of developmental progression in summer flounder, these characteristics are too variable to form the sole basis of a staging table. Therefore, we define stages by morphological criteria drawn from the development of the jaw apparatus and digestive system, eye migration, and notochord tip flexion. Examination of these morphological features in hatched larvae allows accurate and consistent assessment of developmental stage despite variation in timing and size. The staging scheme for flounder embryonic and larval development presented here should facilitate both experimental and comparative research on summer flounder and other flatfish species. J. Morphol. 255:162–176, 2003. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Biological Sciences

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Journal of Morphology


Wiley-Liss, Inc

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© 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.