MEPS 311:125-130 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps311125

Water, not food, contributes the majority of strontium and barium deposited in the otoliths of a marine fish

B. D. Walther*, S. R. Thorrold

Biology Department MS 50, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA

ABSTRACT: We quantified the relative contributions of water and food to strontium (Sr) and barium (Ba) deposited in otoliths of juvenile mummichogs Fundulus heteroclitus. Fish were reared in seawater spiked with 86Sr and 137Ba significantly beyond natural values to obtain distinct isotopic signatures for water and food. Element abundances (Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca) and isotope ratios (88Sr:86Sr and 138Ba:137Ba) were quantified in water samples using solution-based inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), and 88Sr:86Sr and 138Ba:137Ba ratios in otoliths were quantified using laser ablation ICP-MS. The relative contributions of water and food sources to otolith aragonite were assessed using a simple linear isotope mixing model. Water sources contributed 83% of Sr and 98% of Ba in otoliths formed in spiked seawater. Our results indicate that water chemistry is the dominant factor controlling the uptake of Sr and Ba in the otoliths of marine fishes. Thus, chemical signatures recorded in the otoliths of marine fishes should reflect the ambient water composition of these elements at the time of deposition.

KEY WORDS: Otolith · Element uptake · Sr isotope · Ba isotope · Water sources

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