Aging three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus: comparison of estimates from three structures

Anastasia Yurtseva, Kristina Noreikiene, Dmitry Lajus, Zitong Li, Tarja Alapassi, Tatiana Ivanova, Mikhail Ivanov, Pavel Golovin, Sami Vesala, Juha Merilä

Research output

1 Citation (Scopus)


In order to assess the accuracy and reliability of age estimates from calcified structures in the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, we evaluated intra and inter-reader repeatability from three structures: otoliths, gill covers and pelvic spines). Average age estimates were also compared between the structures. The overall intra-reader repeatability of age estimates were highest for otoliths (69%), lowest for gill covers (53%) and intermediate for spine cross-sections (63%). Although four of the seven readers had the highest intra-reader repeatability score for spine cross-sections, the inter-reader variance in this structure was much higher than in others. Otoliths were the easiest in terms of their pre-analysis treatment and exchange of materials (as digital images) between readers. In addition, otoliths are more well-studied compared with the other structures with respect to their development through ontogenesis; hence, age estimates based on otoliths should be the most reliable. Therefore, our recommendation is that whenever possible, analysis of otoliths should be the preferred approach for aging G. aculeatus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-811
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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