Validation of the use of thin-sectioned Otoliths for determining the age and growth of Golden Perch, Macquaria ambigua (Perciformes: Percichthyidae), in the Lower Murray-Darling Basin, Australia
JR Anderson, AK Morison and DJ Ray
Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
43(5) 1103 - 1128
Golden perch, Macquaria ambigua, from the Murray-Darling Basin were aged by using transverse thin sections of their sagittal otoliths. Samples from 889 fish were obtained from riverine and lacustrine habitats and from wild and stocked populations. Error in the precision of age estimates (calculated as the mean percentage error of the independent age estimates of four readers) was 5.6% (3.9% after allowing for discrepancies in relation to the annual mark on the edge of the otolith). Validation was accomplished by using a combination of analysis of the progression of modes in length-frequency distributions, qualitative and quantitative marginal-increment analysis, and analysis of age estimates of fish from populations with a known stocking history. The technique was validated for fish up to 8 years of age (455-545 mm total length, 1695-3988 g total weight), and the greatest recorded age was 16 years (530-600 mm total length, 2607-4050 g total weight). Annual marks become visible in otolith sections in most fish of all ages in October, and 1 October was designated as the birth date. A description of our method of reading sections of golden perch otoliths, including recognition of false annual marks, is given. Otolith length, width and thickness increased linearly with fish length and with loglo(fish age), whereas otolith weight increased linearly with fish age and exponentially with fish length. The continuous growth of the otoliths and the consistency in the appearance of annual marks support the accuracy of estimates up to the maximum recorded age. The mean length-at-age and the parameters of the length-weight relationship were estimated. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters were also estimated (L∞ =507 mm, to=0.420 years, K=0.454). No significant differences were found in growth rates or length-weight relationships between males and females. However, growth (particularly in weight) was highly variable among sites and years, and slow-growing 5-year-olds may be shorter than fastgrowing 1-year-olds. Ages were estimated for a sample of 86 golden perch caught between 1949 and 1951 but a comparison of growth rates between these and more recent collections was inconclusive.
Full text doi:10.1071/MF9921103
© CSIRO 1992