Reassessment of spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias age and growth using vertebrae and dorsal-fin spines

W. J. Bubley, J. Kneebone, J. A. Sulikowski, P. C.W. Tsang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Male and female spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias were collected in the western North Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Maine between July 2006 and June 2009. Squalus acanthias ranged from 25 to 102 cm stretch total length and were caught during all months of the year except January. Age estimates derived from banding patterns visible in both the vertebrae and second dorsal-fin spines were compared. Vertebral growth increments were visualized using a modified histological staining technique, which was verified as appropriate for obtaining age estimates. Marginal increment analysis of vertebrae verified the increment periodicity, suggesting annual band deposition. Based on increased precision and accuracy of age estimates, as well as more biologically realistic parameters generated in growth models, the current study found that vertebrae provided a more reliable and accurate means of estimating age in S. acanthias than the second dorsal-fin spine. Age estimates obtained from vertebrae ranged from <1 year-old to 17 years for male and 24 years for female S. acanthias. The two-parameter von Bertalanffy growth model fit to vertebrae-derived age estimates produced parameters of L = 94·23 cm and k = 0·11 for males and L = 100·76 cm and k = 0·12 for females. While these growth parameters differed from those previously reported for S. acanthias in the western North Atlantic Ocean, the causes of such differences were beyond the scope of the current study and remain to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1300-1319
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Ageing
  • Growth models
  • Histological staining
  • Squalidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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