The purpose of this chapter is to consider the question “Is it necessary to validate the periodicity of increment formation in every species of fish for which we seek age-based demographic data”? The focus is on coral reef fishes. Four issues require consideration. Firstly, validation programs are expensive in terms of resources and time. This is especially important for coral reef fishes as resources available to tropical fisheries are often very limited. Secondly, many modern techniques used to validate the accuracy of age estimates require field and laboratory infrastructure that may not be available to fisheries laboratories serving coral reefs. Thirdly, the great majority of validation studies have confirmed the annual periodicity of increment formation. Fourthly, opportunities to study undisturbed populations of reef fishes from which reference age data can be derived are limited due to over-fishing and habitat alteration. The authors argue for a more strategic approach to age-based studies in coral reef fishes.
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