Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 6, pp 1327–1333 | Cite as

Climatic effects on the growth of a temperate reef fish from the Southern Hemisphere: a biochronological approach

  • B. M. GillandersEmail author
  • B. A. Black
  • M. G. Meekan
  • M. A. Morrison
Original Paper


Increments in the hard parts of marine organisms (otoliths, skeletons, shells) can provide long-term chronologies of growth analogous to tree rings. For the first time in the Southern Hemisphere, we use a dendrochronological (tree-ring analysis) approach to develop a multidecadal chronology of growth for a temperate reef fish, Girella tricuspidata, from the coast of northern New Zealand. Growth patterns in the otoliths of this species were strongly synchronous among individual fish over a period spanning 27 years (1980–2006). We then compared our otolith chronology to climatic records and found strong positive correlations of growth with sea surface temperature, and weak negative correlations with the multivariate El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index. Strongest correlations were found between summer sea surface temperature and otolith growth. This relationship was consistent across all years and explained 44 % of the variation (y = −2.0 + 0.1785 × temperature, r 2 = 0.4367, P = 0.0002) in the G. tricuspidata growth chronology. Our study illustrates how otolith chronologies provide remarkable records of annual growth patterns over decadal time scales that will be useful for forecasting the likely effects of climate change on marine ecosystems.


Express Population Signal Measurement Time Series Otolith Growth Standardize Time Series Annual Growth Increment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We acknowledge funding from the Ministry of Fisheries, New Zealand for collection of fish, Environment Institute, University of Adelaide for part funding BABs visit to Adelaide, a Lavern Weber visiting fellowship, and an ARC Future Fellowship (FT100100767) to BMG. We also acknowledge participants from the workshop in Adelaide where the initial chronology was developed. We thank Gretchen Grammer for producing Fig. 1.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. M. Gillanders
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. A. Black
    • 2
  • M. G. Meekan
    • 3
  • M. A. Morrison
    • 4
  1. 1.Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Hatfield Marine Science CenterOregon State UniversityNewportUSA
  3. 3.Australian Institute of Marine Science UWA Oceans Institute (MO 96)CrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research LtdAucklandNew Zealand

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