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Otolith structural and chemical analyses: the key to resolving age and growth of the Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarcticum

  • Richard L. Radtke (a1), Gerd Hubold (a2), Scott D. Folsom (a1) and Petra H. Lenz (a1)

Abstract

The various life history stages of the Weddell Sea population of Pleuragramma antarcticum were sampled to investigate life-history patterns of this ecologically important polar fish. Otoliths were examined for size, morphology and microstructure. Age determination of Antarctic fishes has proved to be difficult because of small ambient temperature fluctuations. External and internal examination of otoliths by scanning electron microscopy revealed internal increments (assumed to be daily) and hatching marks. Back calculation of hatching dates from otolith increments, suggested a hatching season from September-November, with recruitment to the adult population at three to five years of age. Growth data conformed well to the von Bertalanffy equation. Fish grew slowly, with the largest fish attaining ages of more than 30 years. A multivariate mathematical model relating age to otolith morphometrics and fish size proved reliable, making it possible to age large sample sizes of fish. Limited elemental microprobe data obtained from two otoliths demonstrated patterns which may be useful in indicating the environmental life history of individual fish. These collective data suggest that the ecological importance of populations of Pleuragramma antarcticum is most likely due to a long life span and high lifetime reproduction rate.

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Otolith structural and chemical analyses: the key to resolving age and growth of the Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarcticum

  • Richard L. Radtke (a1), Gerd Hubold (a2), Scott D. Folsom (a1) and Petra H. Lenz (a1)

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