From Megan’s Abstract:
Otoliths are the ear bones of fishes used for balance and detecting vibrations. Much like a tree, otoliths exhibit growth rings. In temperate species these rings are annual, but in many tropical species rings are deposited daily. If there is a tight correlation between otolith size and fish size, then we can back-calculate an individual’s growth rate across its entire lifetime. To establish this correlation we studied two closely related species of wrasse, Thalassoma amblycephalum and T. bifasciatum. As a side project, we were interested in the degree of lateral symmetry between the otoliths on the right and left sides of an individual.
The general expectation is that physical characters should be symmetrical. However, during our dissections we observed seemingly high levels of variation. This could be a result of weak selection on some internal structures.
Faculty mentor: Lock Rogers, Biology