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Estimating the timing of growth rings in Atlantic cod otoliths using stable oxygen isotopes

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A technique involving micro‐scale sampling of otolith carbonate and analyses of stable oxygen isotope composition was used to relate the zone appearance of the otolith to the seasonal temperature cycle. Otolith opacity could then be related to the timing of zone formation. Otoliths from two groups of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua held under known temperature conditions over a period of 4 and 6 years were examined. The otolith translucency followed the same pattern as the estimated temperature (from otolith δ18O values) in the yearly increments three and four, meaning that the translucent zones were deposited at the seasonal highest temperature in late summer and early autumn. The relative light intensities of otolith yearly increments five and six of older fish (deposited in the same years), however, were not significantly correlated to the estimated temperatures since increased otolith translucency also occurred at low temperatures. This might have been caused by stress in connection with gonad development or starvation during the spawning period. The results showed that this method of coupling otolith opacity and stable oxygen isotope composition can be used to estimate the timing of zone formations in otoliths.

Keywords: Gadus morhua; age estimate; corroboration; otolith chemistry; otolith macrostructure

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: University of Bergen, Department of Biology, P. O. Box 7800, N-5020 Bergen, Norway

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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