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Patterns of habitat use by size of mostly juvenile fishes are described for upper Charlotte Harbor based on 13 years of monthly sampling by otter trawl. Wet (June–September) and dry (October–May) season use groupings are identified for the most abundant fishes. Total annual
abundance varied by a factor of four. Trends of relative abundance by species, community indices and standardized estimates of species number support the idea that decreasing flows result in a more diverse group of fishes using the upper harbor. Dissolved oxygen levels below 2 mg/liter near
the bottom resulted in sharp decreases for relative abundances and number of species present. The 13-year study encompassed the driest 10 years in terms of freshwater inflow from the Peace River for the period of record (57 years), with record droughts in 1980–81 and 1984–85. The
second highest wet season flow since 1960 occurred during the summer of 1982. Sixty-two species were caught by otter trawl. Thirteen species were common enough to analyze for relationships with dissolved oxygen, salinity (freshwater inflow) and temperature. Principal components analysis was
performed using 13 environmental variables, reducing data set variability to four factors accounting for 75% of the environmental variation, for further analysis with the common species. The two most abundant species, Anchoa mitchilli and Cynoscion arenarius showed significant
long-term declines in relative abundances. Less common species, particularly those in the rare category increased in relative abundances.
The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.