University Of Tasmania

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Potential linkages between juvenile nurseries and exploited populations of Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus), explored using otolith chemistry

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 04:08 authored by Russell, A, Taylor, MD, Thomas BarnesThomas Barnes, Johnson, DD, Gillanders, BM

Many exploited coastal species rely on estuarine nurseries, however, the importance of different estuaries and their contribution to exploited populations can vary. Identification of connectivity between source nurseries and exploited populations is important for effective habitat and fishery management. We present a case study which employs otolith chemistry to investigate source-sink population dynamics across broad spatial scales for an exploited migratory sciaenid, Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus). Specifically, we compared the otolith chemical fingerprints of juveniles in putative estuarine nurseries across south-eastern Australia with the sub-yearling chemical fingerprints of post-recruited fish in the exploited component of the stock. Multinomial Logistic Regression (MLR) suggested that two of the eight estuarine nurseries sampled were particularly important sources of Mulloway recruits, and there was strong evidence of stock mixing which exceeded that expected from historic tag-recapture studies. However, there was some uncertainty in the patterns resolved. Variation in otolith signatures between the known-source juveniles and post-recruit fish may be explained by inter-annual variability in these systems, caused by extensive flooding on the central and northern-NSW coast during the study period. These events contributed considerable extrinsic variation to the chemical composition, influencing the lack of overlap between otolith chemistry of putative nurseries and sub-yearling otolith chemistry of exploited fish. The approach presented highlights the importance of considering inter-annual variability when examining source-sink relationships in long-lived species, but the use of otolith fingerprints shows promise for evaluating these questions for both Mulloway and other exploited fish species.


Publication title

Fisheries Research



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

Crown Copyright © 2021 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Aquaculture prawns