The effects of sex, stock, and environment on the shape of known-age Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) otoliths from the Faroe Islands were investigated. Moreover, the feasibility of otolith shape analysis for stock identification was evaluated. The shape was described by using several normalized Fourier descriptors and morphometric variables. There were no consistent differences between the left and right otoliths and between sexes within different age classes, stocks, and environments. With our experimental design, we could evaluate the relative importance of genetic and environmental conditions (water temperature and diet regime) on otolith shape and morphometrics. Using otolith shape, cod individuals were significantly separated into Bank and Plateau stocks. Total classification success was between 79% and 85% between stocks and between 85% and 96% between environments for the different age classes. The significant differences in otolith shape between Faroe Bank and Faroe Plateau cod stocks provided a phenotypic basis for stock separation. Stock and environmental influences were substantial in determining the shape of cod otoliths.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2004, Vol 61, Issue 2, p. 158-167