Ichthyoplankton community structure in a shallow subtropical estuary of the Florida Atlantic coast
Abstract:The northern Indian River Lagoon (IRL) system, Florida, possesses limited hydrologic connection to the Atlantic Ocean, a condition that dampens tidal flushing, with implications for both fish spawning behavior and subsequent larval recruitment. we conducted a 2-yr ichthyoplankton study of the northern IRL to document the abundance and distribution of individual larval taxa and assess spatio-temporal patterns in overall community structure. From August 2002 to July 2004, 48 surveys were performed in eight estuarine sub-basins. In total, 592,449 fish larvae from 58 identifiable taxa, and 6.1 million eggs were collected. Ichthyoplankton was numerically dominated by the families Engraulidae and Gobiidae, which comprised 74% and 17% of all larvae, respectively. The family Sciaenidae was the most speciose with eight taxa represented. Although community structure was similar throughout the region, temporal variation in ichthyoplankton abundance was pronounced with 85% of eggs and 94% of larvae collected during the May–October wet season. Marine-spawned larvae comprised < 0.2% of captures. widespread estuarine spawning was apparent for red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus (Linnaeus, 1766), and southern kingfish, Menticirrhus americanus (Linnaeus, 1758), suggesting that northern IRL populations of these fishery species may be largely self-recruiting and do not depend on larval influx from shelf waters.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2007
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