Extrinsic factors affecting otolith chemistry – implications for interpreting migration patterns in a diadromous fish
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Much has been revealed about fish migration, including diadromous behaviour, through the use of otolith chemistry. Manipulative experiments assist with unravelling information on otolith chemical composition and incorporation thereby answering specific questions on diadromous movements. In this study, a laboratory-based experiment was used to determine the relative and interactive effects of salinity and water temperature on the composition of three key elements (Sr, Ba and Mg) within the otolith of a catadromous fish, Percalates novemaculeata, endemic to south-eastern Australia. Otolith incorporation of Sr and Ba was positively related to ambient water concentration, whereas Mg incorporation was not. Sr and Ba increased and decreased significantly across salinity gradients, respectively, with minor positive effects of temperature also being detected. Salinity and temperature interacted to significantly affect the elemental concentration ratios for Ba: Ca in otoliths. Discrimination between fresh water and marine environments shows promise for interpreting P. novemaculeata residency based on these elements alone. However, deciphering finer scale movements within estuarine environments may be difficult. Our data highlights the importance of multifactorial validation experiments and suggests complementary use of multiple approaches for unravelling species-specific patterns of fish movement and habitat use.
KeywordsCatadromy Diadromy Migratory history Otolith Percalates Novemaculeata
We are grateful to Craig Burnes for his technical support during the laboratory experiments and the Shoalhaven Marine and Freshwater Centre (University of Wollongong) for the use of their facilities. Thank you to staff from University of Adelaide who assisted in the analysis of otolith samples. Ashley Fowler, Meaghan Duncan and anonymous referees greatly enhanced the final manuscript through their constructive criticism. This research was funded by NSW Recreational Fishing Trust and University of Wollongong and complied within the requirements of the Animal Research Act 1985 (ACEC 06 /03).
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