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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Reading the biomineralized book of life: expanding otolith biogeochemical research and applications for fisheries and ecosystem-based management

Reis-Santos, Patrick; Gillanders, Bronwyn M.; Sturrock, Anna M.; Izzo, Christopher; Oxman, Dion S.; Lueders-Dumont, Jessica A.; Hussy, Karin; Tanner, Susanne E.; Rogers, Troy; Doubleday, Zoe A.; Andrews, Allen H.; Trueman, Clive; Brophy, Deirdre; Thiem, Jason D.; Baumgartner, Lee J.; Willmes, Malte; Chung, Ming-Tsung; Johnson, Rachel C.; Heimbrand, Yvette; Limburg, Karin E.;
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Chemical analysis of calcified structures continues to flourish, as analytical and technological advances enable researchers to tap into trace elements and isotopes taken up in otoliths and other archival tissues at ever greater resolution. Increasingly, these tracers are applied to refine age estimation and interpretation, and to chronicle responses to environmental stressors, linking these to ecological, physiological, and life-history processes. Here, we review emerging approaches and innovative research directions in otolith chemistry, as well as in the chemistry of other archival tissues, outlining their value for fisheries and ecosystem-based management, turning the spotlight on areas where such biomarkers can support decision making. We summarise recent milestones and the challenges that lie ahead to using otoliths and archival tissues as biomarkers, grouped into seven, rapidly expanding and application-oriented research areas that apply chemical analysis in a variety of contexts, namely: (1) supporting fish age estimation; (2) evaluating environmental stress, ecophysiology and individual performance; (3) confirming seafood provenance; (4) resolving connectivity and movement pathways; (5) characterising food webs and trophic interactions; (6) reconstructing reproductive life histories; and (7) tracing stock enhancement efforts. Emerging research directions that apply hard part chemistry to combat seafood fraud, quantify past food webs, as well as to reconcile growth, movement, thermal, metabolic, stress and reproductive life-histories provide opportunities to examine how harvesting and global change impact fish health and fisheries productivity. Ultimately, improved appreciation of the many practical benefits of archival tissue chemistry to fisheries and ecosystem-based management will support their increased implementation into routine monitoring.[GRAPHICS].


Otolith; Calcified structure; Archival tissue; Chemistry; Life-history; Fisheries management

Published in

Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
2023, Volume: 33, number: 2, pages: 411-449
Publisher: SPRINGER

    SLU Authors

    • Associated SLU-program

      Coastal and sea areas

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG14 Life below water

      UKÄ Subject classification


      More information

      Correction in: Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, Volume 33, pages 451-452, DOI: 10.1007/s11160-022-09729-4

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