Validation of back-calculation methods using otoliths to determine the length of anchovy kilka (Clupeonella engrauliformis)



Age structure of the Caspian Sea anchovy kilka, Clupeonella engrauliformis, was estimated for the first time by back-calculation methods. Otolith growth and the rate of increment in anchovy kilka were examined to determine whether otoliths could be used to back calculate body sizes at various life stages. Sampling was carried out on commercial fishing vessels board along the Iranian coast in 2007. The age structure of the samples ranged from 2 to 7 years old which was dominated by the third year class (38.6%). The largest fish measured was 137.2mm fork length. The relationship between fork length (FL) and otolith radius (OR) was described by the following equation: FL=13.77+ 82.78*OR (r2=0.92). Three proportional back-calculation methods, Fraser-Lee, Whitney & Carlander and Dahl-Lea models, were compared by using data sets of anchovy kilka otoliths, and we validated back calculation by comparing them with observed lengths. Back calculated lengths generally corresponded well with observed lengths in anchovy kilka age classes. Variance of the back calculated length data obtained from three models indicated no significant difference (P>0.05).