Cryptic lives of conspicuous animals: Otolith chemistry chronicles life histories of coastal lagoon fishes

Frontiers in Marine Science
By: , and 



Bar-built coastal lagoons are dynamic ecosystems at the land-sea interface that are important habitats for a variety of species. This study examined the habitat ecology of two lagoon species, the endangered Tidewater Goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) and the Prickly Sculpin (Cottus asper) by reconstructing individual life histories from patterns in the concentration of the element Sr (as ratioed to Ca; Sr:Ca) in otoliths. Specific objectives were to (1) elucidate any movements of individual fishes among three primary habitat components of typical bar-built lagoon systems: coastal ocean, brackish lagoon, and freshwater watershed streams, and (2) determine if either species exhibited a consistent life history as defined by a stereotypical otolith Sr:Ca chronology, which could be indicative of a consistent range of salinity or temperature occupied through ontogeny. Results suggested that Tidewater Goby was a lagoon resident and that Prickly Sculpin exhibited migrations between lagoon and watershed stream habitats. There was no strong evidence in either species of ocean occupancy or of a stereotypical Sr:Ca chronology, the latter suggesting the full range of available lagoon habitat in terms of salinity and temperature was likely utilized at all life stages. These findings add to the body of evidence that bar-built lagoons are not isolated habitats, and holistic management of these habitats with adjoining watershed and marine environments could increase habitat connectivity across the landscape, with potential benefits to fishes.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Cryptic lives of conspicuous animals: Otolith chemistry chronicles life histories of coastal lagoon fishes
Series title Frontiers in Marine Science
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2020.00417
Volume 7
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Frontiers
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 417, 9 p.
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Francisco Bay
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