Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture, 23:329–345, 2015
DOI: 10.1080/23308249.2015.1068737


This document is a U.S. government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Age information derived from calcified structures is commonly used to estimate recruitment, growth, and mortality for fish populations. Validation of daily or annual marks on age structures is often assumed, presumably due to a lack of general knowledge concerning the status of age validation studies. Therefore, the current status of freshwater fish age validation studies was summarized to show where additional effort is needed, and increase the accessibility of validation studies to researchers. In total, 1351 original peer-reviewed articles were reviewed from freshwater systems that studied age in fish. Periodicity and age validation studies were found for 88 freshwater species comprising 21 fish families. The number of age validation studies has increased over the last 30 years following previous calls for more research; however, few species have validated structures spanning all life stages. In addition, few fishes of conservation concern have validated ageing structures. A prioritization framework, using a combination of eight characteristics, is offered to direct future age validation studies and close the validation information gap. Additional study, using the offered prioritization framework, and increased availability of published studies that incorporate uncertainty when presenting research results dealing with age information are needed.