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Tuesday, January 26 • 11:00am - 11:20am
Precision and Bias of Cleithra and Sagittal Otoliths Used To Estimate Ages of Northern Pike

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AUTHORS: Matthew Faust, Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Jason Breeggemann, South Dakota State University; Brian Graeb, South Dakota State University; Samantha Bahr, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

ABSTRACT: Cleithra are thought to accurately record age information and produce the most reliable age estimates relative to other calcified structures (e.g., scales) for long-lived species of Esocidae such as muskellunge Esox masquinongy and northern pike E. lucius. Sagittal otoliths provide the most accurate and precise age estimates for other fish species, yet sagittal otoliths have never been evaluated for age estimation of any species of Esocidae. Our objectives were to determine if: 1) sagittal otoliths provided more precise age estimates than cleithra for northern pike from two populations, and 2) sagittal otolith age estimates differed systematically from cleithrum age estimates for two populations of northern pike. Ages were estimated by three independent individuals with different experience levels from sagittal otoliths and cleithra collected from 66 northern pike (32–101 cm total length) from Devils Lake, North Dakota and 45 northern pike (27–52 cm total length) from Cable Lake, Wisconsin. Cleithrum age estimates were more precise than those from sagittal otoliths for northern pike from Devils Lake, and were similar to sagittal otolith age estimates for northern pike from Cable Lake. Sagittal otolith age estimates were similar to cleithrum age estimates for northern pike from Devils Lake, but were dissimilar for northern pike from Cable Lake. We recommend using cleithra for estimating age of northern pike given that no specialized equipment is required for processing and age estimation. However, other studies are needed to further investigate the use of sagittal otoliths to estimate age of northern pike.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am EST
Emerald A