We investigated the potential for using carbon and oxygen isotope values of otolith carbonate as a method to distinguish naturally produced (wild) lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) from hatchery-reared lake trout in Lake Ontario. We determined ??13C(CaCO3) and ?? 18O(CaCO3) values of otoliths from juvenile fish taken from two hatcheries, and of otoliths from wild yearlings. Clear differences in isotope values were observed between the three groups. Subsequently we examined otoliths from large marked and unmarked fish captured in the lake, determining isotope values for regions of the otolith corresponding to the first year of life. Marked (i.e., stocked) fish showed isotope ratios similar to one of the hatchery groups, whereas unmarked fish, (wild fish or stocked fish that lost the mark) showed isotope ratios similar either to one of the hatchery groups or to the wild group. We interpret these data to suggest that carbon and oxygen isotope values can be used to determine the origin of lake trout in Lake Ontario, if a catalogue of characteristic isotope values from all candidate years and hatcheries is compiled.
Additional publication details
Distinguishing wild vs. stocked lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Lake Ontario: Evidence from carbon and oxygen stable isotope values of otoliths