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Life history of spinyhead croaker Collichthys lucidus (Sciaenidae) differentiated among populations from Chinese coastal waters

Shuai Zhang, Yan’e Jiang, Min Li, Jiangfeng Zhu, Shannan Xu, Zuozhi Chen*

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Otolith microchemistry provides valuable information about the environmental history of individual fish, but few studies considered the influence of population or stock on the life history traits. This study used the Sr/Ca ratio as an index of habitat use of spinyhead croaker Collichthys lucidus from two different populations (northern China population and southern China population), including lifetime otolith microchemistry profiles (n = 63 fish) and determinations of natal habitat selection (n = 352 fish). The otolith data revealed three life history patterns in C. lucidus: Pattern 1 individuals spent most of their lifetime (>95%) in mesohaline waters (Sr/Ca range 3–7 mmol mol–1), but particularly during early growth; Pattern 2 individuals migrated from hyperhaline waters (Sr/Ca ≥ 7 mmol mol–1) to mesohaline waters; and Pattern 3 individuals migrated from oligohaline waters (Sr/Ca < 3 mmol mol–1) to mesohaline waters. Pattern 2 and Pattern 3 were specific to the northern China and southern China populations, respectively, and Pattern 1 was shared by the two populations. The otolith core Sr/Ca ratios showed that most C. lucidus selected mesohaline waters as their natal habitat (i.e., 90.6% of 352 total individuals); 12.5% (19 of 152) selected hyperhaline waters and fell within the northern China population, and 7% (14 of 200) selected oligohaline waters and fell within the southern China population. These results indicate life history diversity exists in this species, as the pattern of habitat use largely differed between the northern China and southern China populations. The overall findings highlight that the behavior of different populations should be considered when determining fish migration histories.