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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2005 Oct;24(10):2612-20.

Validation of otolith growth rate analysis using cadmium-exposed larval topsmelt (Atherinops affinis).

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Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California-Davis, Bodega Bay, California 94923, USA.


We applied otolith growth rate analysis to an investigation of cadmium (Cd)-exposed larval topsmelt (Atherinops affinis) to determine if growth rate was a more sensitive measure than somatic growth (body wt or length). Topsmelt otoliths, calcareous concretions in the fish inner ear, formed daily increments, and otolith growth was proportional to somatic growth. Nine-day posthatch larval topsmelt were exposed to Cd (0-100 ppb) in seawater for 14 d and fed low or high ration levels in separate experiments. Whereas Cd impaired topsmelt growth and growth rates, the extent of growth reduction was dependent on the ration level. At high ration levels, otolith and somatic growth rates of fish exposed to Cd (50 and 100 ppb) were significantly reduced; however, no differences in final mean weight and only marginal differences in final mean length of Cd-exposed topsmelt were observed. At low ration levels, we detected reductions in both somatic growth as well as otolith and somatic growth rates of topsmelt exposed to Cd (50 and 100 ppb). Otolith growth rate analysis was more sensitive than growth measurements of Cd-exposed topsmelt, because it allowed the detection of small differences in growth rates even when differences in somatic growth were not observed.

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