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Age estimation and lead-radium dating of golden tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps


There is a growing concern over the lack of life history information for many deepwater fisheries species, including golden tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps. Fundamental life history characteristics, like age and growth, are required for effective, age-structured stock assessments and management decisions. A previous effort to validate golden tilefish age estimates using bomb radiocarbon dating was inconclusive, which led to an application of lead-radium dating in the current study. Lead-radium dating uses the radioactive disequilibrium of lead-210 (210Pb) and radium-226 (226Ra) in otoliths as an independent estimate of age. Ages were also estimated using traditional age estimates by counting growth zones in thin otolith sections and lead-radium dating was used to test these estimates. Radiometric ages (corrected for time since capture) were similar to age estimates from growth zone counts for two of the female age groups and the two oldest age groups of unknown sex, which confirmed an annual growth zone deposition. However, radiometric ages did not agree with age estimates from growth zone counts for males. The difference may be attributed to geographical variations in radium levels, growth rates and growth zone formation by gender or gender transition. Male sagittal otoliths revealed inconsistent growth zone patterns in thin sections, which may have contributed to underageing. Golden tilefish longevity was confirmed to 26 years.

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  1. Reference to Trade Names does not imply endorsement by NMFS.

  2. Reference to Trade Names does not imply endorsement by NMFS.

  3. W. Moore 2011 Pers. Comm. University of South Carolina, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Columbia, SC 29208

  4. D. Drass 2010 Pers. Comm. NMFS, 3209 Frederic Street, Pascagoula, MS 39567–4112


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We thank Heather Hawk at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories for assistance with sample processing and Craig Lundstrom at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for ICP-MS processing of the purified radium samples. We appreciate Claudia Dennis (National Marine Fisheries Service, Miami, FL) for collection of biological samples at the docks and Laura Goetz Thorton (National Marine Fisheries Service, Panama City, FL) for sectioning the otoliths used in this study. We also thank Bryon White and Marcel Reichert at South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Marine Resources Research Institute, Marine Resources Monitoring, Assessment and Predication Program in providing golden tilefish radiocarbon values and otolith sections. The primary author recognizes her doctoral committee (Micheal Allen, William E. Pine, III, Carl Walters, Debra Murie, Alan Bolten, and Clay Porch) at the University of Florida, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program for their comments and suggestions on this research as it appears in her dissertation. Opinions expressed herein are of the authors and do not imply endorsement by National Marine Fisheries Service. Financial support was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, Marine Fisheries Initiative Program (07MFIH007).

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Correspondence to Linda A. Lombardi-Carlson.

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Lombardi-Carlson, L.A., Andrews, A.H. Age estimation and lead-radium dating of golden tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps . Environ Biol Fish 98, 1787–1801 (2015).

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  • Age validation
  • Radiometric ageing
  • Lead-210
  • Radium-226
  • Malacanthidae
  • Great Northern tilefish