Influence of habitat on diet and distribution of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in a temperate estuary
Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) are recreationally and commercially valuable finfish along the Atlantic seaboard of North America including the Chesapeake Bay estuary. Habitat use patterns for striped bass in relation to biogenic habitat types in Chesapeake Bay tributaries are poorly described although it is widely acknowledged that these piscivorous fishes use estuarine habitat for nursery and feeding grounds during development. Striped bass diet and distribution patterns were examined in relation to a gradient of biogenic habitats ranging from complex three-dimensional oyster reef through flat oyster bar to sand bottom habitat in the Piankatank River, Virginia. Striped bass were more abundant at both sites with oysters and oyster shell substrate than at the site with sand substrate. Striped bass in association with the three-dimensional oyster reef were larger and consumed more teleosts (e.g., naked gobies) than fish at either of the non-reef sites. Striped bass estuarine habitat use is positively correlated with the presence of oyster reef habitat that includes physical structure and food resources via complex trophic communities centered on the oyster reef.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-05-01
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