Habitat associations of large-bodied mangrove-shoreline fishes in a southwest Florida estuary and the effects of hurricane damage
We used 183-m seines to study the effects of canopy damage by Hurricane Charley (August 2004) on the use of red mangrove Rhizophora mangle Linnaeus shorelines by large-bodied (> ∼100 mm SL) fishes in Charlotte Harbor (Florida, USA). No significant relationship was found between proportion of the shoreline that was damaged and fish-assemblage structure in the year following the hurricane; however, temperature, water depth, and salinity did influence fish-assemblage structure. Post-hurricane fish assemblages were not notably different from pre-hurricane (1996–2004) assemblages. Despite wide-ranging loss of canopy, defoliation, and mortality of red mangroves, prop-root structure remained largely intact, which may have minimized gross changes in the assemblages of large-bodied fish along the mangrove shorelines during the first post-hurricane year. The effects of habitat damage on the fish assemblages may yet be manifested due to continued deterioration of existing prop-root structure and the apparent slow rate of recolonization of red mangroves in the area. Also, the effect of widespread mangrove mortality on the many other mangrove functions (e.g., primary productivity, food-web, and nutrient dynamics) may ultimately lead to system-level changes that affect the abundance and condition of large-bodied fish.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 May 2007
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