Journal Article

Otolith chemistry: an aid to stock separation of <i>Helicolenus dactylopterus</i> (bluemouth) and <i>Merluccius merluccius</i> (European hake) in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean

S.C. Swan, A.J. Geffen, B. Morales-Nin, J.D.M. Gordon, T. Shimmield, T. Sawyer and E. Massutí

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 3, pages 504-513
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2005.08.012
Otolith chemistry: an aid to stock separation of Helicolenus dactylopterus (bluemouth) and Merluccius merluccius (European hake) in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean

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Helicolenus dactylopterus and Merluccius merluccius are widely distributed on the continental slopes of the Atlantic and Mediterranean and have quite different life histories. Both are commercially exploited, but little is known about their stock structure. Fish otolith composition is thought to reflect both endogenous processes and external factors, some of which relate to the surrounding environment, and therefore may be used as a tool for stock discrimination. The elemental composition of sagittal otoliths was examined using both solution-based inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry of the whole otolith and laser-ablation analysis of the otolith nucleus. The relative concentrations of strontium, barium, and copper in dissolved whole otoliths contributed to the discrimination between H. dactylopterus samples from different geographic areas. Surface analysis of the otolith nucleus did not allow separation of geographic groups. For M. merluccius, separate analyses of the whole otolith data for the Atlantic and Mediterranean samples gave a clear distinction of the different groups within each ocean basin. Analysis of the M. merluccius nucleus composition indicated some differences in elemental concentration among both Atlantic and Mediterranean samples. Magnesium and lead were important elements in separating the groups in the Atlantic, and barium, strontium, and lead were important in the Mediterranean.

Keywords: deepwater fish; ICP-MS; otolith chemistry

Journal Article.  5540 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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