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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 412 - Feature article
Head of a walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma larva showing otoliths (small dark spots within green circle).
Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Chan KS, Zhang T, Bailey KM


Otolith biochronology reveals factors underlying dynamics in marine fish larvae


The age distribution of a fish population contains demographic information on factors influencing the balance of birth and death rates. Chan and colleagues have developed a statistical approach for extracting such information using a panel of 19 annual daily-hatch date frequencies for larval walleye pollock in the Gulf of Alaska, showing that the shape and height of the hatch date frequency distributions are dynamically altered by parameters that influence spawning, hatching and survival processes. These parameters include temperature, strong winds, and the age frequency of the spawning adults, as well as the intervention effects of a climate regime shift and/or the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which co-occurred in 1989. The methodology provides a general framework for unlocking the rich information hidden in age distribution data.


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