Otolith chemistry in freshwater has considerable potential to reveal patterns of origin and movement, which would benefit traditional fisheries management and provide a valuable tool to curb the spread of invasive and illicitly stocked species. We evaluated the relationship between otolith and water chemistry for five markers (Ba/Ca, Mn/Ca, Sr/ Ca, Zn/Ca, and 87Sr/86Sr) in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) using the existing hatchery system in Colorado and Wyoming, USA, to provide controlled, seminatural conditions. Otolith Ba/Ca, Sr/Ca, and 87Sr/86Sr reflected ambient levels, whereas Mn/Ca and Zn/Ca did not. Using only the markers correlated with water chemistry, we classified fish to their hatchery of origin with up to 96% accuracy when element and isotope data were used together. Large changes in 87Sr/Sr were evident in otolith transects, although subtler changes in Sr/Ca were also detectable. Our results suggest the relatively few otolith markers that reflect ambient chemistry can discriminate among locations and track movements well enough to provide valuable insight in a variety of applied contexts.
Additional Publication Details
Elemental signatures in otoliths of hatchery rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss): Distinctiveness and utility fo detecting origins and movement
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences