Age validation, and comparison of otolith, vertebra and opercular bone for estimating age of Schizothorax o’connori in the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Tibet
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A collection of 514 Schizothorax o’connori was made between August 2008 and August 2009 from Yarlung Tsangpo River to assess the suitability of three bony structures for age estimation. The annulus characteristics of otolith, vertebra and opercular bone were described. Location of the first annulus was validated by daily growth increment (DGI) analysis in the otoliths. Annual periodicity was verified by marginal increment ratio (MIR) analysis in otoliths and edge analysis in vertebrae and opercular bones. Annuli formed, once a year, between March and May for all three bony structures. Otoliths, vertebrae and opercular bones were examined to determine which structure produced the most precise and accurate age estimates in S. o’connori. Vertebrae and otoliths matched closely for the first 21 years of life, while opercular bones appeared to underestimate age. For older fish, the counts diverged and otoliths consistently providing higher age estimates. Sectioned otoliths proved to be the most precise and accurate structure for age estimation. The oldest observed schizothoracine fish was 50, more than twice the longevity previously accepted in S. o’connori.
KeywordsAge validation Otolith Vertebra Opercular bone Schizothorax o’connori
The authors acknowledge Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China for providing the otolith image analysis system. Thanks to Haiping Huang for his help in sample collection. Also, thanks to Ulrich G. Reinhardt and Dongmei Xiong suggesting revisions to the manuscript.
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