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The effect of temperature and somatic growth on otolith growth: the discrepancy between two clupeid species from a similar environment

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Otolith growth rates of the early life stages of herring Clupea harengus (n= 472) and smelt Osmerus eperlanus (n= 348) collected in the Vistula Lagoon (Baltic Sea) during 1997–1999 were analysed. The larvae and early juveniles were not only collected in the same geographical area they were also of the same size (range 15–43 mm standard length, LS), similar ages and were collected during the same seasons (May to July). Although the two clupeid species experienced very similar environmental conditions, there were significant discrepancies in the analysed relationships. The otolith growth of larval and juvenile smelt was very strongly related to somatic growth while temperature had a minor effect. In herring, the effect of somatic growth, although clearly visible and statistically highly significant, was of less importance than temperature. Furthermore, variation in the otolith size and LS relationship was affected by temperature and somatic growth in both species, but the variance of otolith size at LS was higher for herring than for smelt. Although growth backcalculation from otoliths can presently be recommended as an appropriate method for use with both smelt and herring (despite possibly lower precision and accuracy with the latter), other methods referring directly to short-term increment width changes (e.g. marginal increment analysis) are recommended for smelt but not for herring.
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Keywords: larval fishes; otolith growth; otolith size; uncoupling

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 01 September 2006

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