Habitat Partitioning and its Possible Genetic Background Between Two Sympatrically Distributed Eel Species

The geographical distributions of the Japanese eel and Giant-mottled eel overlap in many regions in East Asia. After a long period of adaptation, they may exhibit habitat partitioning in the rivers to diminish the interspecific competition. Field investigation indicated that the Japanese eel inhabited the lower and middle reaches of the Fengshan River, but the Giant-mottled eel was distributed over the middle to upper reaches. Moreover, the mRNA expression levels of fMYH, dio2, gria3, and neurod1 were higher in the Giant-mottled eel than in the Japanese eel, implying that Giant-mottled eels might have better swimming bursts and more active upstream migration than Japanese eels. Our results suggest that there is a habitat partition at which these two eel species coexist in a river, and their habitat distributions may be linked to their swimming bursts and upstream migration.

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