MEPS 382:185-195 (2009)  -  DOI:

Spatial variation in otolith chemistry of Atlantic croaker larvae in the Mid-Atlantic Bight

Jason J. Schaffler1,*, Christian S. Reiss2, Cynthia M. Jones1

1Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, Old Dominion University, 800 W. 46th St., Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
2NOAA Antarrtic Research Division, SWFSC, 8604 La Jolla Shores Dr., La Jolla, California 92037, USA

ABSTRACT: Larval Atlantic croaker Micropogonias undulatus (1 to 7 mm in standard length) were collected on the east coast of the United States from North Carolina to Delaware during 2000. We defined 3 water-mass boundaries for potential groups of spawning Atlantic croaker using temperature and salinity measured at each sampling station. We tested the hypothesis that distinct otolith chemistries existed among 3 groups of larval Atlantic croaker collected from these water masses using solution-based inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Multivariate analysis of variance indicated that otolith chemistry differed significantly among water masses. Using a quadratic discriminant function, we were able to correctly classify fish from the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) 73% of the time, South Atlantic Bight (SAB) 53% of the time, and Chesapeake Bay plume 36% of the time. The correct reclassification rates observed were significantly better than random. Results from this study indicate that it is possible to obtain measurable elemental concentrations from otoliths much smaller than previously analyzed (weight 0.015 to 1.976 µg). Moreover, contrary to previous studies, our results indicate that it is possible to distinguish natal signatures among larvae on different spawning grounds in the MAB and SAB. Further, this new information could benefit investigations of dispersal from offshore spawning grounds to estuaries or other nursery habitats.

KEY WORDS: Larvae · Otolith chemistry · Microchemistry · Connectivity · Spatial variability · Solution · Laser · ICP-MS

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Cite this article as: Schaffler JJ, Reiss CS, Jones CM (2009) Spatial variation in otolith chemistry of Atlantic croaker larvae in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 382:185-195.

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