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California sea lion with mouth open, showing teeth

Using Tooth Layers to Determine California Sea Lion Age

Accuracy and precision of age determination using growth layer groups for California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) with known ages
  • Aging
  • Teeth

Abstract

Age determination from counts of growth layer groups (GLGs) in tooth dentine is a common method for aging marine mammals. Using known‐aged animals, we validated this method for acid etched teeth of California sea lions (CSLs), Zalophus californianus. Between 1991 and 2013, the upper left canine (n = 33) was collected opportunistically during necropsy from animals tagged or branded as pups that later died. Overall, 55%–61% of age estimates by GLG counting were within 1 yr of the known‐age in the sample of 1–30‐yr‐old CSLs. Accuracy of age estimates was found to be dependent on age of the CSLs, however. 71%–79% of age estimates were within 1 yr of the known‐age in CSLs <10 yr old. These findings support the validity of counting GLGs to estimate age for CSLs <10 yr old to within 1 yr of accuracy. 


Rust, L.B., Danil, K., Melin, S.R. and Wilkerson, B. (2019), Accuracy and precision of age determination using growth layer groups for California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) with known ages. Mar Mam Sci, 35: 1355-1368. doi:10.1111/mms.12605

aging
teeth

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