Decoding fingerprints

Elemental composition of vertebrae correlates to age-related habitat use in two morphologically similar sharks

Bree J. Tillett*, Mark G. Meekan, David Parry, Niels Munksgaard, Iain C. Field, Dean Thorburn, Corey J A Bradshaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

We compare vertebral microchemistry with previously described age-related movement patterns of bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas and pig-eye sharks C. amboinensis within coastal waters of north Australia. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) quantified the chemical signatures of nursery habitats within the vertebrae of juvenile and adult sharks. We examined evidence for adults returning to these habitats by applying LA-ICP-MS along a growth axis of their vertebrae. We transposed chemical signatures with growth increments in adult vertebrae to correlate with age estimates. Unique elemental signatures were identified in each of the fresh - water nurseries, but we did not find them in adult vertebrae. Age-specific changes in vertebral microchemistry in mature female bull sharks correlate with periodic returns every 1 to 2 yr to less saline environments to pup. We were unable to discriminate among natal habitats of pig-eye sharks using elemental fingerprints, and age-specific changes in vertebral microchemistry were also absent. We conclude that changes in vertebral microchemistry correlate with known habitat use patterns of the bull and pig-eye sharks, showing the potential of vertebral microchemistry to discern movement patterns in sharks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-142
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume434
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright Inter-Research 2011. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Carcharhinidae
  • LA-ICP-MS
  • Long-term
  • Movement
  • Resource partitioning
  • Vertebral microchemistry

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    Tillett, B. J., Meekan, M. G., Parry, D., Munksgaard, N., Field, I. C., Thorburn, D., & Bradshaw, C. J. A. (2011). Decoding fingerprints: Elemental composition of vertebrae correlates to age-related habitat use in two morphologically similar sharks. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 434, 133-142. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09222