Spatial and temporal variability in the otolith chemistry of the Brazilian snapper Lutjanus alexandrei from estuarine and coastal environments.
Additional Document Info
Otolith chemistry of juvenile and adult individuals of the Brazilian snapper Lutjanus alexandrei was measured to assess the utility of natural markers for investigating individual movements. Individuals were collected over a 3-year period (2010-2012) along the north-eastern coast of Brazil from both estuarine (juvenile to sub-adult stages) and coastal (sub-adult to adult stages) areas. Six elements ((7) Li, (24) Mg, (55) Mn, (59) Co, (88) Sr and (137) Ba) were measured in sectioned otoliths of L. alexandrei using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS). Edge composition analysis indicated that element:Ca ratios in the otoliths of juvenile and sub-adult L. alexandrei from estuaries were not significantly different among the three consecutive years (2010, 2011 and 2012), suggesting that physicochemical conditions within the nursery area investigated were temporally stable. Similarly, apart from two elements (Ba and Co), element:Ca ratios for larger L. alexandrei inhabiting coastal waters were also similar. In contrast, otolith chemistry of similar sized L. alexandrei from estuarine and coastal areas was significantly different (based on recently accreted material). Otolith Mn:Ca and Ba:Ca were both significantly higher for L. alexandrei collected in estuaries compared to fish from adjacent coastal reefs, while the opposite trend was observed for Sr:Ca. Given the pronounced differences in otolith chemistry between estuarine and coastal areas, element:Ca transects were constructed from the core to margin of the otoliths for adults (age 7+ years) collected on reefs to determine the timing of movement (ontogenetic migration) from estuarine to coastal areas. Based on observed patterns of decline for both Mn:Ca and Ba:Ca, it appears that L. alexandrei begin the move to more coastal habitats (i.e. lower element:Ca ratios) after age 2years. The patterns observed for this species highlight the importance of conserving connectivity between coastal habitats to maintain sustainable fish stocks exploited by artisanal fisheries.