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Thermal habitat of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in coastal waters of northern Massachusetts, USA, during summer

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Striped bass, Morone saxatilis, were captured and released with temperature-measuring data storage tags in Salem Sound, Massachusetts, to collect data on their thermal preferences in coastal and marine waters and to identify environmental factors that may influence temperatures experienced during their summer residence. Striped bass recaptured during summer of 2006 (21 of 151 releases) experienced a wide range of temperatures (6.5–28.0°C) while at-large for 1–53 days. Overall mean temperature and standard deviation selected by striped bass recaptured in Salem Sound during the longest commonly-shared duration of time (3–12 July) were 17.8 and 3.57°C, respectively. Comparison of temperature data between fish and 13 vertical arrays in Salem Sound revealed that striped bass experienced higher and more variable temperatures, and that daily changes in temperature actually experienced were unrelated to daily changes in surrounding ambient temperature. Regular cyclical changes in temperature of all striped bass and vertical arrays were identified as influences of the local tide, which contributed about a 2°C change in temperature, on average, over the complete cycle. Most striped bass appeared to limit their activities to depths shallower than the lower limit of the thermocline, above which temperatures generally exceed 9.0°C in Salem Sound. Therefore, it is likely that the vertical distribution of striped bass is restricted by the low temperatures below this depth. An implication of this finding is that the spatial distribution of striped bass may be defined coarsely by knowledge of the distribution of temperature in coastal areas.
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Keywords: Morone saxatilis; environmental influences; temperature selection

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Field Station, 30 Emerson Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930, USA 2: National Marine Fisheries Service, 28 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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