Marine Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 319-324

First online:

Length of larval life in twelve families of fishes at “One Tree Lagoon”, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • E. B. BrothersAffiliated withSection of Ecology and Systematics, Corson Hall, Cornell University
  • , D. McB. WilliamsAffiliated withAustralian Institute of Marine Science
  • , P. F. SaleAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney

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The length of larval life in some coral reef fishes was estimated from the number of growth increments in the otoliths of newly settled fishes. We examined 210 individuals comprising 38 species and 5 unidentified taxa, and belonging to 12 families. During 2 successive austral summers (1976–1977 and 1978–1979), specimens were collected from the lagoon at One Tree Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. By assuming that growth increments in otoliths are laid down on a regular daily cycle commencing near the time of hatching, we calculated typical ages ranging from 3 to 6 wk with a minimum of just over 2 wk and a maximum of 12 wk. The otoliths also contain distinctive microstructural features which can serve as approximate temporal markers for the change from the postlarval to juvenile life stage.