Beyond Hydrography: Can Physical Processes Explain Larval Fish Assemblages within the Middle Atlantic Bight?
The summer ichthyoplankton within the New York Bight can be separated into five distinct assemblages (Coastal A and B, Shelf, Outer-shelf, and Slope). Attempts to explain the distribution of species within these assemblages based on simple hydrographic parameters such as temperature and salinity explain, on average, less than 15% of the variability. A better explanation of these groupings can be obtained by incorporating a more detailed understanding of the complex physical processes that operate within the Bight. We provide a detailed analysis of one of the larval fish assemblages, the Slope assemblage, to demonstrate how assemblage membership may be dynamic and to elucidate which factors may be most important in maintaining assemblage boundaries and membership. While spawning location may be important in determining the presence of certain species, a clear understanding of transport routes may be needed to explain the presence of other species. Maintenance of assemblage boundaries is due to a combination of the physical features of the environment (e.g., fronts, currents) and larval behavior. Studying larvae that cross assemblage boundaries over time suggests how some larvae may actively utilize different cross-front exchange processes, and conversely, how other larvae avoid such transport.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1993-09-01
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