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An assessment of the size structure, distribution and behaviour of fish populations within a temporarily closed estuary using dual frequency identification sonar (DIDSON)

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The fish populations within the East Kleinemonde Estuary, South Africa, were studied using Dual frequency IDentification SONar (DIDSON) during March 2010 which allowed for direct comparisons of the abundance, distribution and behaviour of a wide size range of fishes along the length of the system. Small schooling fishes <100 mm in total length (L T) were most abundant while larger size classes 100–300 and 300–500 mm were less abundant, but evenly distributed longitudinally within the estuary. Fishes <100 mm were most abundant within the mouth region which may reflect the feeding ecology of species that fall into these size classes and the effects of higher turbidities further up the estuary. Large fishes >500 mm were similarly most abundant near the mouth, and fishes of this size being mostly piscivorous, probably showed these distribution patterns due to the location of smaller prey fishes. Differential behaviour was observed among the longitudinal sections, with small fishes forming schools in areas of low turbidity and particularly in the presence of large predatory fishes. Results from this study present a snap‐shot of the composition, distribution and behaviour of the ichthyofauna within a small temporarily closed estuary, and also show that abiotic factors and interactions of various size classes can influence their distribution. There is significant potential for DIDSON in future ecological research within these systems.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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