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Growth of tropical dasyatid rays estimated using a multi-analytical approach

O'Shea, O.R., Braccini, M., McAuley, R., Speed, C.W. and Meekan, M.G. (2013) Growth of tropical dasyatid rays estimated using a multi-analytical approach. PLoS ONE, 8 (10). e77194.

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We studied the age and growth of four sympatric stingrays: reticulate whipray, Himanutra uarnak (n=19); blue mask, Neotrygon kuhlii (n=34); cowtail, Pastinachus atrus (n=32) and blue-spotted fantail, Taeniura lymma (n=40) rays at Ningaloo Reef, a fringing coral reef on the north-western coast of western Australia. Age estimates derived from band counts within sectioned vertebrae ranged between 1 and 27 years (H. uarnak, 1 - 25 yrs.; N. kuhlii, 1.5 - 13 yrs.; P. atrus, 1 - 27 yrs. and T. lymma, 1 -11 yrs.). Due to limitations of sample sizes, we combined several analytical methods for estimating growth parameters. First, we used nonlinear least squares (NLS) to identify the growth model that best fitted the data. We then used this model, prior information and the data within a Bayesian framework to approximate the posterior distribution of the growth parameters. For all species the two-parameter von Bertalanffy growth model provided the best fit to size-at-age datasets. Based on this model, the Bayesian approach allowed the estimation of median values of WD∞ (cm) and k (yr-1) for the four species (H. uarnak: 149 and 0.12; N. kuhlii: 42 and 0.38; P. atrus 156 and 0.16, and T. lymma 33 and 0.24, respectively). Our approach highlights the value of combining different analytical methods and prior knowledge for estimating growth parameters when data quality and quantity are limited.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2013 O'Shea et al.
Notes: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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