Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 89, Issue 3–4, pp 441–451 | Cite as

Interactive effects of ontogeny, food ration and temperature on elemental incorporation in otoliths of a coral reef fish

  • Benjamin D. Walther
  • Michael J. Kingsford
  • Mark D. O’Callaghan
  • Malcolm T. McCulloch


The potential for environmental and physiological modification of elemental incorporation in otoliths is significant and must be validated before otoliths can be used reliably to estimate water parameters over the life history of a fish. We experimentally manipulated temperature and diet quantity for juvenile, sub-adult, and adult Acanthochromis polyacanthus, a tropical damselfish of the SW Pacific. Significant interactive effects between life history stage, temperature and food quantity were observed for otolith Ba/Ca, while significant interactions between stage and food were observed for Sr/Ca. Specific growth rates were negatively correlated with DBa and DSr for juveniles and sub-adults. These interactions indicated elemental incorporation dynamics varied depending on the life history stage, suggesting variation in effects of stage-specific metabolism or reproductive status. Our results highlight complex responses of elemental incorporation to both endogenous and exogenous factors. Interpretations of life history transects across otoliths must account for these effects to avoid confounding environmental variability with ontogenetic changes in physiology.


Otolith Elemental chemistry Incorporation Experiment Acanthochromis Pomacentridae 



BDW was supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Australian Research Council funds awarded to MJK and MTM, respectively. We thank Reef HQ for supplying fish and MARFU staff for assistance with the experiments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin D. Walther
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michael J. Kingsford
    • 2
  • Mark D. O’Callaghan
    • 2
  • Malcolm T. McCulloch
    • 1
  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Marine Science InstituteThe University of Texas at AustinPort AransasUSA

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