Validation of Daily Increments Periodicity in Otoliths of Spotted Gar

Accurate age and growth information is essential in successful management of fish populations and for understanding early life history. We validated daily increment deposition, including the timing of first ring formation, for spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) through 127 days post hatch. Fry were produced from hatchery-spawned specimens, and up to 10 individuals per week were sacrificed and their otoliths (sagitta, lapillus, and asteriscus) removed for daily age estimation. Daily age estimates for all three otolith pairs were significantly related to known age. The strongest relationships existed for measurements from the sagitta (r2 = 0.98) and the lapillus (r2 = 0.99) with asteriscus (r2 = 0.95) the lowest. All age prediction models resulted in a slope near unity, indicating that ring deposition occurred approximately daily. Initiation of ring formation varied among otolith types, with deposition beginning 3, 7, and 9 days for the sagitta, lapillus, and asteriscus, respectively. Results of this study suggested that otoliths are useful to estimate daily age of spotted gar juveniles; these data may be used to back calculate hatch dates, estimate early growth rates, and correlate with environmental factor that influence spawning in wild populations. is early life history information will be valuable in better understanding the ecology of this species.

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