Response to "Comment on 'Otolith Microchemistry Reveals Substantial Use of Freshwater by Southern Flounder in the Northern Gulf of Mexico'" by Pedro Morais

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


Lowe et al. (Estuar Coast 34:630–639, 2011) used Sr/Ca in the otoliths of juvenile southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma) to demonstrate the importance of low-salinity habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico during early life. While otolith cores indicated that most southern flounder originated in high-salinity environments (elevated Sr/Ca in otolith core) and moved into lower salinity habitats (decreased Sr/Ca outside of the otolith core), approximately one third of the sampled individuals had otolith core chemistry that indicated spawning or hatching in or near freshwater habitats (low Sr/Ca throughout the otolith). Morais (Estuar Coast 34:630–639, 2012) proposes a different interpretation: he suggests that the high Sr/Ca found in 68 % of juvenile otolith cores (and low Sr/Ca just outside of the core region) may be due to females hydrating their eggs in offshore (high-salinity) waters, with spawning, hatching, and egg/larval development all actually occurring in low-salinity environments (his “sea-run mother” hypothesis). While there is ample literature supporting the importance of maternal contributions to otolith microchemistry during vitellogenesis, it is our contention that such contributions ultimately depend on the ecology and reproductive physiology of each species. Further, a mass inshore migration of adult southern flounder during their spawning season is counter to the well-documented life history patterns for this species throughout its range. While we appreciate Morais' perspective, we continue to stand by the conclusion of our original paper.

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Estuaries and Coasts





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