Distribution and Abundance of Fishes Among Basin and Channel Habitats in Florida Bay
Surface and bottom trawls were used to sample fishes in basins and channels in the western half of Florida Bay. These data were evaluated in conjunction with information on environmental parameters, including seagrasses, to identify fish-habitat associations. Florida Bay is utilized by a diverse fish assemblage dominated by juveniles and forage species. The western portion of our sampling area within Florida Bay, adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, and channels within the Bay consistently supported the highest diversity of fish. Channel areas generally displayed the highest overall standing crop and density of seagrasses. Basins in the western portion of the Bay were most diverse in terms of seagrass composition and exhibited the highest overall densities of Syringodium filiforme. Cluster analysis revealed two major station groups. One, characterized by fish species that occurred frequently and in large numbers, occurred primarily in channels and in western Florida Bay where mixtures of seagrasses were prevalent; a second, characterized by low fish densities, occurred in generally monotypic stands of Thalassia testudinum. Discriminant function analysis demonstrated that comparatively higher sediment organic contents, slightly shallower water, and abundant Halodule wrightii and Syringodium populations were important factors at stations belonging to the typically high density fish cluster.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 January 1989
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