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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 598:187-199 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12495

Evaluating estuarine nursery use and life history patterns of Pomatomus saltatrix in eastern Australia

H. T. Schilling1,2,*, P. Reis-Santos3,4, J. M. Hughes5, J. A. Smith1,2, J. D. Everett1,2, J. Stewart5, B. M. Gillanders4, I. M. Suthers1,2

1Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
2Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Building 19, Chowder Bay Road, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia
3MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Campo Grande, Lisboa, Portugal
4Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
5New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Chowder Bay Road, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia
*Corresponding author: Advance View was available online April 17, 2018

ABSTRACT: Estuaries provide important nursery habitats for juvenile fish, but many species move between estuarine and coastal habitats throughout their life. We used otolith chemistry to evaluate the use of estuaries and the coastal marine environment by juvenile Pomatomus saltatrix in eastern Australia. Otolith chemical signatures of juveniles from 12 estuaries, spanning 10° of latitude, were characterised using laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Based upon multivariate otolith elemental signatures, fish collected from most estuaries could not be successfully discriminated from one another. This was attributed to the varying influence of marine water on otolith elemental composition in fish from all estuaries. Using a reduced number of estuarine groups, the multivariate juvenile otolith elemental signatures and univariate Sr:Ca ratio suggest that between 24 and 52% of adult P. saltatrix had a juvenile period influenced by the marine environment. Elemental profiles across adult (age-1) otoliths highlighted a variety of life history patterns, not all consistent with a juvenile estuarine phase. Furthermore, the presence of age-0 juveniles in coastal waters was confirmed from historical length-frequency data from coastal trawls. Combining multiple lines of evidence suggests considerable plasticity in juvenile life history for P. saltatrix in eastern Australia through their utilisation of both estuarine and coastal nurseries. Knowledge of juvenile life history is important for the management of coastal species of commercial and recreational importance such as P. saltatrix.


KEY WORDS: Otolith chemistry · Elemental profiles · Bluefish · Tailor · Strontium · Barium


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Cite this article as: Schilling HT, Reis-Santos P, Hughes JM, Smith JA and others (2018) Evaluating estuarine nursery use and life history patterns of Pomatomus saltatrix in eastern Australia. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 598:187-199. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12495

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