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Regional variation in otolith Sr:Ca ratios of African longfinned eel Anguilla mossambica and mottled eel Anguilla marmorata: a challenge to the classic tool for reconstructing migratory histories of fishes

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Otolith Sr:Ca ratios of the African longfinned eel Anguilla mossambica and giant mottled eel Anguilla marmorata from nine freshwater sites in four rivers of South Africa were analysed to reconstruct their migratory life histories between freshwater and saltwater habitats. For A. mossambica, the Sr:Ca ratios in the otolith edge differed significantly among rivers and had large effect sizes, but did not differ among sites within a river. Otolith Sr:Ca ratios did not differ among rivers for A. marmorata. When rivers were pooled, the edge Sr:Ca ratios of A. mossambica were not significantly different from those of A. marmorata. According to the river‐specific critical Sr:Ca ratio distinguishing freshwater from saltwater residence, most A. mossambica and A. marmorata had saltwater habitat experience after settlement in fresh water. This was primarily during their elver stage or early in the yellow eel stage. During the middle and late yellow eel stage, freshwater residency was preferred and only sporadic visits were made to saltwater habitats. The data also suggest that regional variations in otolith Sr:Ca ratios affect the critical Sr:Ca value and are a challenge for the reconstruction of migratory life histories that should be explicitly considered to avoid bias and uncertainty.

Document Type: Editorial


Publication date: 2012-07-01

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