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Age and growth of Astarte borealis (Bivalvia) from the southwestern Baltic Sea using secondary ion mass spectrometry

  • Moss, David K.1
  • Surge, Donna2
  • Zettler, Michael L.3
  • Orland, Ian J.4, 4
  • Burnette, Alex2
  • Fancher, Abby2
  • 1 Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, 77431, USA , Huntsville (United States)
  • 2 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA , Chapel Hill (United States)
  • 3 Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Rostock, Germany , Rostock (Germany)
  • 4 University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA , Madison (United States)
Published Article
Marine Biology
Publication Date
Jul 24, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s00227-021-03935-7
Springer Nature
  • Original Paper


Traditional isotope sclerochronology employing isotope ratio mass spectrometry has been used for decades to determine the periodicity of growth increment formation in marine organisms with accretionary growth. Despite its well-demonstrated capabilities, it is not without limitation. The most significant of these being the volume of carbonate powder required for analysis with conventional drill-sampling techniques, which limit sampling to early in ontogeny when growth is fast or to species that reach relatively large sizes. In species like Astarte borealis (Schumacher, 1817), a common component of Arctic boreal seas, traditional methods of increment analysis are difficult, because the species is typically long-lived, slow growing, and forms extremely narrowly spaced growth increments. Here, we use Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) to analyze δ18O in 10-μm-diameter spots and resolve the seasonal timing of growth increment formation in Astarte borealis in the southeastern Baltic Sea. In the individaul sampled here, dark growth increments can form in either the fall, winter, or spring. Furthermore, growth increment data from two populations (RFP3S = 54.7967° N, 12.38787° E; WA = 54.86775° N, 14.09832° E) indicate that in the Baltic Sea, A. borealis is moderately long-lived (at least 43 years) and slow growing (von Bertalanffy k values 0.08 and 0.06). Our results demonstrate the potential of A. borealis to be a recorder of Baltic Sea seasonality over the past century using both live- and dead-collected shells, and also the ability of SIMS analysis to broaden the spectrum of bivalves used in sclerocrhonological work.

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