Geochemical signatures in otoliths record natal origins of American shad
Walther, Benjamin D.
Thorrold, Simon R.
Olney, John E.
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Population connectivity is a critical component in the life history dynamics of anadromous fishes and in the persistence of local populations. We used geochemical signatures in the otoliths of American shad Alosa sapidissima to determine natal origins and estimate rates of straying among river-specific populations along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Stable isotope (δ13C, δ18O and 87Sr:86Sr) and elemental (Mg:Ca, Mn:Ca, Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca) signatures in otoliths of juvenile American shad from rivers from Georgia to New Hampshire varied significantly, allowing for an average of 91% cross-validated accuracy when classifying individual fish to their natal rivers. We also found significant interannual variability in the geochemical signatures from several rivers, due largely to differences in δ18O values among years. We then used the ground-truthed geochemical signatures in the otoliths of juvenile American shad to identify the natal origins of spawning adults in the York River system in Virginia. Approximately 6% of the spawning adults collected in the York River were strays from other rivers. Of the remaining fish, 79% were spawned in the Mattaponi River and 21% in the Pamunkey River. The combined results of this and other recent studies suggest that although most American shad spawning in the York River were homing to their natal river, there was much less fidelity to individual tributaries. Small-scale straying could allow fish spawned in the Mattaponi River to subsidize spawning in the Pamunkey River, which has experienced persistent recruitment failure
Author Posting. © American Fisheries Society, 2008. This article is posted here by permission of American Fisheries Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137 (2008): 57–69, doi:10.1577/T07-029.1.
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