Otolith microstructure analysis to resolve seasonal patterns of hatching and settlement in western Baltic cod
Previous studies showed that Baltic cod (Gadus morhua) settle to demersal life at a given size, while the annulus is formed seasonally, irrespective of size. The goal of this study was to examine the timing of check formation in juvenile Baltic cod otoliths to validate macrostructural ageing and to differentiate between true annuli and secondary structures such as settlement checks. Otoliths were collected from fish off Fehmarn Island in 2008 and 2009, and were examined for macrostructural and microstructural patterns using light and scanning electron microscopy. All fish examined were age-0. Back-calculation of hatch dates indicated hatching from April to June and from February to August in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Juveniles formed either one or two translucent rings. The first translucent ring started to form 3 months post-hatch and was interpreted as a settlement check, since it appeared to be a function of age and/or size and not season. Deposition of the second ring began in mid October to early November irrespective of fish size and/or age, thus indicating that this ring may represent the first annulus of Baltic cod. Both rings were clearly distinguishable in individuals hatched between February and May, but were merged in those fish where settlement coincided with the seasonally formed second ring
Rehberg-Haas, Sabine / Hammer, Cornelius / Hillgruber, Nicola / et al: Otolith microstructure analysis to resolve seasonal patterns of hatching and settlement in western Baltic cod. 2012.
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