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Effect of diet on otolith composition in Pomatomus saltatrix, an estuarine piscivore

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To test the hypothesis that elemental composition of otoliths (sagittae) could be influenced by differences in natural prey type, young‐of‐the‐year bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix were captured immediately after their migration from oceanic waters into mid‐Atlantic Bight estuaries and fed either shrimp, Crangon septemspinosa and Palaemonetes spp. or fish Menidia menidia under similar temperature and salinity regimes in two separate 60 day experiments. Unlimited rations of fish and shrimp prey were provided in the first experiment which led to differences in bluefish growth rate between the two prey treatments; fish prey was limited in the second experiment to ensure that growth rates of bluefish in the two prey treatments were similar. Concentrations of seven elements in bluefish otoliths were determined using solution‐based inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). There was no significant effect of diet on five of the seven elements examined (Na, Mg, K, Ca and Mn). The levels of Sr and Ba in the otoliths of shrimp‐fed bluefish, however, were significantly higher than fish‐fed bluefish in both experiments. Concentrations of Ba in shrimp‐fed bluefish otoliths were double that found in fish‐fed bluefish. The results suggest that diet can explain some of the variation in otolith chemistry previously attributed to physical and chemical properties of the water.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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