|Walther, B. D., and S. R. Thorrold, Water, not food, contributes the majority of strontium and barium deposited in the otoliths of a marine fish, Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 311: 125-130, 2006|
We quantified the relative contributions of food and water to strontium (Sr) and barium (Ba) deposited in otoliths from juvenile mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus). Fish were reared in seawater spiked with 86Sr and 137Ba significantly beyond natural values to give food and water distinct isotopic signatures. Elemental abundances (Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca) and isotopic ratios (88Sr/86Sr and 138Ba/137Ba) were quantified in water samples using solution-based inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and 88Sr/86Sr and 138Ba/137Ba ratios in otoliths were quantified using laser ablation ICP-MS. The relative contributions of food and water sources to otolith aragonite were assessed using a simple linear isotopic mixing model. Water sources contributed 83% of Sr and 98% of Ba in otoliths formed in spiked seawater. Our results indicate that water chemistry is the dominant factor controlling the uptake of Sr and Ba in the otoliths of marine fishes. As a result, chemical signatures recorded in otoliths of marine fishes should reflect the ambient water composition of these elements at the time of deposition.