We analyzed data from a long-term fisheries-independent monitoring program to quantitatively assess seasonal variations in species diversity, abundance, and composition of fish communities in the northern Indian River Lagoon. Between fall 1990 and 1993, over 2.24 million fish representing
108 species and 43 families were collected by using seines, trawls, and gillnets during seasonal stratified-random sampling and monthly fixed-station sampling regimes. Seasonal collections were numerically dominated by less than 10 small estuarine forage species including Anchoa mitchilli,
Menidia spp., Floridichthys carpio, and Lucania parva which were present in high abundances throughout the year. We observed strong seasonal patterns in abundance measures for several less common or transient species collected from shallow-water habitats (e.g., Brevoortia
spp., Trachinotus falcatus, Caranx hippos, Cynoscion nebulosus, and Leiostomus xanthurus) and from lagoon-basin habitats (e.g., Micropogonias undulatus and Diapterus auratus). Estimates of species richness and abundance were directly correlated with
water temperature, reaching maxima during summer or fall and minima during winter. Species diversity (H′) ranged from 0.9–1.4 and followed similar seasonal trends. This study provides baseline estimates of seasonal variations in fish communities of the northern Indian River Lagoon,
based on comprehensive sampling techniques, that can be used for future comparisons of Indian River Lagoon fish communities.
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