Information on forage fish ages from otoliths collected in avian stomach contents

José R. Marín Jarrin, David Anchundia, Michelle A. Schuiteman, David J. Anderson

Submited: 2021-11-10 17:02:08 | Published: 2022-07-04 20:00:15

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3856/vol50-issue3-fulltext-2858

Abstract


Otolith analysis allows studying multiple aspects of fish biology, including age estimation; however, otoliths collected from avian stomach content have not been used to estimate the age of ingested fish. We evaluated the potential ability to estimate the age of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) from otoliths collected from blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) stomach contents sampled in the Galapagos Islands. Blue-footed boobies were selected because they mostly forage close to their colony (<100 m) and were, therefore, more likely to have almost intact otoliths. To estimate age, we employed three previously developed methods for otoliths. We then related these estimates to the fish's standard length and compared these relations statistically using the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) to determine which method was most parsimonious. We collected 32 otoliths in relatively good condition, of which we aged 31 with the surface-reading method, 26 with the otolith weight method, and 29 with the posterior otolith length method. Average ages obtained with the otolith methods were 5.6 ± 1.7 yr (± standard deviation), 5.7 ± 2.0 yr, and 3.9 ± 1.5 yr, respectively. Estimates obtained with the otolith weight method had the highest correlation with standard length and the lowest AIC values of the three suggesting it was the best method for aging. Our results indicate that aging otoliths extracted from bird stomachs are possible; however, their use depends on the availability of previously developed methods and how digested the fish are when the birds return to the colony.

Marín Jarrin J, Anchundia D, Schuiteman M, Anderson D. Information on forage fish ages from otoliths collected in avian stomach contents. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res.. 2022;50(3): 461-466. Available from: doi:10.3856/vol50-issue3-fulltext-2858 [Accessed 14 Aug. 2022].
Marín Jarrin, J., Anchundia, D., Schuiteman, M., & Anderson, D. (2022). Information on forage fish ages from otoliths collected in avian stomach contents. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 50(3), 461-466. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3856/vol50-issue3-fulltext-2858