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Journal of Fish Biology








The rapid proliferation of publications employing chemical assays of fish hard parts, and otoliths in particular, has led to many novel insights into the migration patterns, life history strategies and mixed stock dynamics of fishes across the globe (Campana et al., 2000; Elsdon et al., 2008; Walther & Limburg, 2012). These insights include uncovering diverse migratory strategies within species and populations (Kerr et al., 2009; Hogan et al., 2014; Schoen et al., 2016), quantifying rates of mixing among stocks across management boundaries (Rooker et al., 2008; Walther & Thorrold, 2010) and estimating the relative importance of particular natal habitats for recruitment (Thorrold et al., 2001; Schaffler et al., 2015; Anstead et al., 2016). Much of this work has been driven by advances in instrumentation that allow more precise and higher throughput analyses with greater spatial and temporal resolution for in situ assays of elemental and isotope constituents across otolith growth increments. Simultaneously, a smaller but growing number of carefully‐designed experiments have provided essential validation for uptake and incorporation dynamics of elements into otoliths that underlie accurate interpretations of chemical composition patterns in wild‐captured individuals (Sturrock et al., 2014, 2015). This work has been increasingly focused on the possible confounding role of physiology in driving uptake dynamics, and the degree to which environmental and physiological factors influence specific elements. Together, these advances have prompted an increasing number of researchers to turn to otolith chemistry as a valuable tool to use alone or in combination with complementary approaches that may unravel critical questions in fish ecology. Much work, however, remains to be done to further develop this approach both to expand its utility and fully validate the environmental and biological mechanisms driving observed chemical patterns. To this end, the frontiers of otolith chemistry must be explored to ensure the field continues to mature during this period of explosive growth and widespread adoption.


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Original Publication Citation

Walther, B. D., Limburg, K. E., Jones, C. M., & Schaffler, J. J. (2017). Frontiers in otolith chemistry: Insights, advances and applications. Journal of Fish Biology, 90(2), 473-479. doi:10.1111/jfb.13266