Document Type


Date of Original Version



The elemental composition of otoliths may provide valuable information for establishing connectivity between fish nursery grounds and adult fish populations. Concentrations of Rb, Mg, Ca, Mn, Sr, Na, K, Sr, Pb, and Ba were determined by using solution-based inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in otoliths of young-of-the year tautog (Tautoga onitis) captured in nursery areas along the Rhode Island coast during two consecutive years. Stable oxygen (δ18O) and carbon (δ13C) isotopic ratios in young-of-the year otoliths were also analyzed with isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Chemical signatures differed significantly among the distinct nurseries within Narragansett Bay and the coastal ponds across years. Significant differences were also observed within nurseries from year to year. Classification accuracy to each of the five tautog nursery areas ranged from 85% to 92% across years. Because accurate classification of juvenile tautog nursery sites was achieved, otolith chemistry can potentially be used as a natural habitat tag.