Uzunova E., Ignatov K., Petrova R. 2020. Comparison of age estimates from scales, fin rays, and otoliths of the introduced Peipsi whitefish, Coregonus maraenoides (Actinopterygii: Salmoniformes: Salmonidae), collected from the Iskar Reservoir (Danube River Basin). Acta Ichthyol. Piscat. 50 (1): 13–21.
Peipsi whitefish, Coregonus maraenoides Polyakov, 1874, is an endemic species of Lake Peipsi (Chudskoe) in Estonia and Russia. In the mid-1970s, it was introduced into the biggest Bulgarian artificial body of water—the Iskar Reservoir (Danube River basin). A recent survey confirmed the existence of a self-sustaining population of the Peipsi whitefish in the dam lake. Establishing a suitable method for determining Peipsi whitefish age would allow fishery managers and biologists to extract valuable information on various population parameters. Therefore, the aim of the presently reported study was to test the suitability of scales, pectoral fin rays, and otoliths for the most reliable age determining of Peipsi whitefish.
Materials and methods.
Age estimates were obtained from transverse sections of sagittal otoliths and pectoral fins, and scales from 54 Peipsi whitefish, collected between October and March 2016–2017. Two readers estimated ages from all three structures independently. The precision and bias of age estimates between readers and among structures were compared using age bias plots, coefficient of variation (CV), percent agreement (PA), and level of readability. Mean consensus ages from two readers for each structure were compared.
Mean consensus age estimates obtained by analysing the scales (2.0 years) were significantly lower than those obtained by analysing the fin rays (2.6) and otoliths (2.7). Between-reader percent agreement was lower and the coefficient of variation was higher for otoliths (PA = 22.2%; CV = 27.6) compared with scales (PA = 46.6%; CV = 10.02) and pectoral fin rays (PA = 67.4%; CV = 10.12). Comparison of age estimates from the different structures revealed the highest PA and the lowest CV values between otoliths and pectoral fin rays (PA = 62.6%; CV = 10.03%), while the lowest PA and highest CV (PA = 35%, CV = 25.03) were observed between age estimates from fin rays and scales (CV, P > 0. 005). The otolith and scale ages agreed for 46.7% and CV was 21.5. The scales were considered by both readers with the highest level of readability (88.9%) than the pectoral fin rays (70.4%) and otoliths (50%).
The use of fin rays is recommended for the age estimation of C. maraenoides from the Iskar Reservoir but further work is needed to validate the accuracy of ageing methodology for small, under one-year old Peipsi whitefish.
Peipsi whitefish, Iskar Reservoir, aging structures, precision, bias