Dispersive behaviors of black drum and red drum: Is otolith Sr : Ca a reliable indicator of salinity history? Academic Article uri icon


  • We tested the hypothesis that strontium:calcium (Sr:Ca) in otoliths are reflective of environmental salinity experienced by two estuarine fishes during early life. Laboratory and field experiments were performed to examine the effects of salinity and temperature on Sr:Ca in otoliths of black drum (Pogonias cromis) and red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus). Otolith Sr:Ca of juveniles reared at four salinities (5, 15, 25, 35) differed significantly for P. cromis while no salinity effect was observed for S. ocellatus. Otolith Sr:Ca of both species were not affected by temperature (23C and 30C), suggesting that partitioning of Sr in otoliths of these taxa is constant over the temperature range examined. A field verification trial was conducted for P. cromis and a positive relationship between otolith Sr:Ca and ambient salinity was observed, even though the percent variability explained was modest. A series of Sr:Ca point measurements were taken from the core to the edge of the otoliths of wild P. cromis and S. ocellatus, and otolith Sr:Ca chronologies of both species showed conspicuous declines during the first few months of life. While Sr:Ca chronologies of both species suggest that ingress is associated with a reduction in otolith Sr:Ca, inconsistencies in laboratory and field experiments intimate that Sr uptake in the otolith may be insensitive to salinity and regulated by other factors (aqueous chemistry, ontogenetic shifts in habitat, or physiology). Results from early life history transects of otolith Sr:Ca conform to expected patterns of estuarine ingress-egress during early life and indicate that the approach may be useful for detecting large-scale habitat transitions (marine to estuarine habitats).

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Rooker, J. R., Kraus, R. T., & Secor, D. H.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Rooker, JR||Kraus, RT||Secor, DH

publication date

  • April 2004