RESEARCH ARTICLE


A Simple Method to Reduce Interpretation Error of Ages Estimated from Otoliths



Bradley J. Smith1, 3, Daniel J. Dembkowski1, 4, *, Daniel A. James2, Melissa R. Wuellner1
1 Department of Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University, Box 2140B, Brookings, SD 57007, USA
2 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Plains Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, 420 S. Garfield Avenue, Suite 400, Pierre, SD 57501, USA
3 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, 2661 Scott Tower Drive, New Franken, WI 54229, USA
4 Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Fish Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI 54481, USA


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© Smith et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode), which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Fish Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI 54481, USA; Tel: (715) 346-4350; E-mail: dan.dembkowski@uwsp.edu.


Abstract

We designed and tested a novel otolith viewing apparatus termed the otolith illumination device (OID) to ascertain if its use would result in a reduction of interpretation error as determined by increased precision of age estimates obtained from otoliths of walleye Sander vitreus and smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu. Clarity of annuli on otolith sections viewed with the OID was generally greater than clarity of annuli on sections viewed with an alternative method. OID-based age estimates were equally as, and in some instance more precise than ages estimated using the alternative method. Additionally, no systematic differences in coefficients of variation across ages were detected between the OID and alternative methods of fish age estimation. Results suggest that the OID may be useful for inexperienced readers and is a viable option for reducing interpretation error, which may improve reader efficiency and accuracy and precision in estimating fish ages.

Keywords: Age estimation, otolith, smallmouth bass, walleye.