Otolith Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca may give inconsistent indications of estuarine habitat use for American eels (Anguilla rostrata)

Brian M. Jessop, Chia Hui Wang, Wann Nian Tzeng, Chen Feng You, Jen Chieh Shiao, Shih Huan Lin

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Temporal patterns in otolith Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca ratio values of American eels Anguilla rostrata from two sites in western Newfoundland gave insight into the use of freshwater and saline habitats. Mean Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca values at the core zone did not differ between sites, indicative of a common oceanic origin. At the otolith edge, representing continental life, both Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca values varied between sites consistent with ambient element:Ca ratio values and salinity, with typically higher Sr:Ca and lower Ba:Ca values in saline than in fresh waters. Most eels (73%) from Muddy Hole, an estuarine site, were evaluated as estuarine residents while most (70%) eels from Castors River, a freshwater site, were evaluated as freshwater residents, with the remaining eels from each site evaluated as inter-habitat migrants. An otolith element:Ca critical value appropriate for distinguishing between fresh and saline water residence is fundamental for estimating the proportion of eel residence in freshwater and their subsequent classification into habitat residence groups. Such classification is moderately robust to the critical value selected. For inter-habitat migrants, moderate otolith Sr:Ca values between the elver check and otolith edge suggestive of estuarine residence may coincide with Ba:Ca values suggestive of freshwater residence. No general critical value for separating fresh and estuarine habitats was found for otolith Ba:Ca. Otolith Ba:Ca temporal patterns may assist the use of Sr:Ca in the evaluation of historical habitat residence and inter-habitat movement but the use of otolith Ba:Ca values should be applied cautiously for American eels and perhaps of other estuarine/freshwater migratory fishes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-207
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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