Marine Ecology Progress Series vol:401 pages:211-220
Estimating connectivity between juvenile and adult fish habitats can provide an important contribution to effective fisheries management, through a better understanding of population resilience to harvesting pressure. Indirect methods for quantifying connectivity, such as geochemical or genetic techniques, allow us to assign adults from various sampling regions to their natal location, provided that natal origin data can be defined. The elemental composition of otoliths from juvenile sole Solea solea collected at 4 sampling locations in the Southern Bight of the North Sea was measured using laser-ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS), to determine elemental fingerprints indicative of distinct nursery grounds. Significant differences in elemental composition were detected among the 4 locations, with Na, Sr, Ba, Mn and Rb concentrations varying the most between groups. A discriminant model resulted in high assignment proportions of the juvenile fish to their respective nursery grounds with a total jackknife reclassification success of 88%. Even though some interannual variability in otolith chemistry was observed in juveniles from the Scheldt estuary, spatial patterns seemed to dominate. Our results constitute a firm basis for future investigations on nursery area contributions and quality, adult dispersal history and applications of population traceability.