U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Fish. Oceanogr. (2011) 20:5, 347–356; doi:10.1111/j.1365-2419.2011.00588.x


Dendrochronology (tree-ring analysis) techniques were applied to develop chronologies from the annual growth-increment widths of red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) and gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus) otoliths sampled from the northern Gulf of Mexico, USA. Growth increment widths showed considerable synchrony within and across species, indicating that some component of environmental variability influenced growth. The final, exactly dated red snapper chronology continuously spanned 1975 through 2003, while the gray snapper chronology continuously spanned 1975 through 2006. To determine baseline climategrowth relationships, chronologies were compared to monthly averages of sea surface temperatures, U winds (west to east), V winds (south to north), and Mississippi River discharge. The gray snapper chronology significantly (P < 0.01) correlated with winds and temperature in March and April, while the red snapper chronology correlated with winds in March. Principal components regression including springtime winds and temperature accounted for 28 and 52% of the variance in the red and gray snapper chronologies, respectively. These results indicate that snapper growth was favored by warm sea surface temperatures and onshore winds from the southeast to the northwest in March and April. Overall, this study provides preliminary, baseline information regarding the association between climate and growth for these commercially important snapper species.