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In situ experiment of ontogenetic variability in the otolith chemistry of Stegastes partitus
Chittaro, P.M.; Hogan, J.D.; Gagnon, J.; Fryer, B.J.; Sale, P.F. (2006). In situ experiment of ontogenetic variability in the otolith chemistry of Stegastes partitus. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 149(5): 1227-1235.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Chittaro, P.M.
  • Hogan, J.D.
  • Gagnon, J.
  • Fryer, B.J.
  • Sale, P.F.

    Otolith chemistry can be used to assess pelagic larval fish connectivity by comparing spatially variable otolith edge chemistry (corresponding to the site of collection) to otolith core chemistry (corresponding to the site of hatching). However, because the otolith’s edge and core represent different life stages, the deposition of elements may differ, thus complicating direct comparisons of edge and core chemistry to investigate connectivity. Here we present data from a field experiment in which otoliths from embryos (3 days post-fertilization) and juveniles of Stegastes partitus were collected at the same site and time, and chemically analyzed to assess whether elemental concentrations of otoliths vary ontogenetically. Separate multivariate analyses, each investigating the spatial/temporal variability in the chemistry of either embryo otoliths or the edges of juvenile otoliths, revealed significant differences, suggesting an environmental influence to the chemical signals of otoliths. A nested multivariate analysis assessing whether otolith chemistry varied with life history stage (i.e., ontogenetic variability) indicated that elemental concentrations of embryo otoliths were significantly greater than that of juvenile otolith edges. Specifically, embryo elemental concentrations of Mn, Zn, Sn, Ba, Ce, and Pb were between 2 and 163 times greater than those of the corresponding juvenile otoliths, and thus the environment was not the primary determinant of embryo otolith chemistry. Consequently, caution is warranted when interpreting environmental patterns of otolith cores, particularly when using them as a proxy for natal signatures.

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