Skip to main content

Stable isotope records from otoliths as tracers of fish migration in a mangrove system

Buy Article:

$51.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


The ratios of stable isotopes 18O:16O and 13C:12C were measured in otolith carbon taken from nine species of fishes caught within mangroves and on the reef at Gazi Bay, Kenya. Before analysis, otoliths were divided into ‘larval’‘post-larval’ and ‘adult’ sections using a drill. Fishes were putatively classified as ‘mangrove residents’‘offshore residents’ or ‘migrants’ on the basis of information from the literature, and depending on where they were caught (mangroves only, offshore only or both mangroves and offshore) in the present study. Eight of the species exhibited an increase in otolith 13C:12C with age, but this was significant only in the two migrant species Lethrinus harak and Lutjanus fulviflammus. There were no consistent patterns in 18O:16O with age, or between migrants and non-migrants. These results suggest that comparing absolute values of otolith oxygen and carbon isotope signatures between fish species is not a useful way of determining migration patterns at this site, because of species-specific differences in carbon metabolism and insufficiently steep gradients in temperature and salinity. Changes in carbon isotope signatures between life stages within a species, however, do hold promise as migration tracers.

Keywords: fish migration; habitat use; mangroves; reef; stable isotopes

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, P. O. Box 81651, Mombasa, Kenya 2: S.U.E.R.C., Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, Rankine Avenue, East Kilbride, Glasgow G75 OQF, U.K. 3: School of Life Sciences, Napier University, Edinburgh EH10 5DT, Scotland, U.K.

Publication date: May 1, 2007

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Partial Open Access Content
Partial Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more