Nekton Use of Salt Marshes of the Southeast Region of the United States

by Lawrence P. Rozas, Natl Marine Fisheries Service, Galveston, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


Published studies of nekton in salt marshes of the Southeast Region of the U.S. were reviewed to identify fish and decapod crustaceans associated with marsh-surface habitats, to describe preferred microhabitats, and to compare habitat use between the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts Nekton assemblages are dominated by estuarine resident species such as daggerblade grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio, sheepshead minnow Cyprinodon variegatus, and several other cyprinodonts. Other numerically dominant cyprinodon variegatus, and several other cyprinodonts. Other numerically dominant cyprinodonts are: gulf killifish Fundulus grandis and diamond killifish Adinia xenica on the Gulf coast and mummichog F. heteroclitus, spotfin killifish F. luciae, and striped killifish F. majalis on the Atlantic coast. Most resident species can use interior marshes that are remote from subtidal habitats. The majority of estuarine transients, including many fishery species (e.g., spotted seatrout Cynoscion nebulosus and brown shrimp Penaeus aztecus), select marsh edge, that part of the marsh surface immediately adjacent to subtidal habitats. Marsh submergence time also influences habitat selection. Nekton assemblages using the marsh surface along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts differ not only in terms of species composition, but also by nekton densities. Densities on Gulf coast marshes are at least an order of magnitude greater than those reported from Atlantic coast marshes. Differences in habitat utilization may be due to dissimilarities in marsh geomorphology, tidal regimes, or rates of relative sea level rise along the two coasts.

Subject Headings: Salts | Fish management | Numerical methods | Salt water | Comparative studies | Vegetation | Aquatic habitats | Seas and oceans | United States | Gulf of Mexico

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