© by the American Fisheries Society 2004
Published in North American Journal of Fisheries Management, Vol. 24, Issue 2 (May 2004) at doi: 10.1577/M02-189.1


Accurate age information is critical to the biological understanding and management of most fish species, but particularly for species of concern, such as the pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus. The accuracy and precision of pallid sturgeon age estimates from pectoral fin ray sections has never been established, yet all accumulated age information for the species was collected using this technique. To examine the accuracy and precision of age estimates, 16 pectoral fin ray samples from age-6 pallid sturgeon were obtained from Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, South Dakota. The fin rays were sectioned, mounted, and independently examined twice by each of two readers. Only 28.1% of the age estimates accurately reflected the known age of the fish. Multiple readings of the same sample by the same reader (within-reader precision) only agreed 25% of the time, differences being as great as 5 years between the two estimates. Between-reader agreement was 46.9%, the two readers' estimates of the same fish differing by as much as 2 years. Because of low accuracy and precision, estimated ages from pallid sturgeon pectoral fin rays should be viewed with caution.



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