Diel variation in the pelagic fish assemblage in a temperate estuary

Stacy Moore Hagan, Kenneth W. Able

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28 Scopus citations


The pelagic fish assemblage within a temperate estuary was examined to determine if there were diel differences in species richness, total abundance, biomass, and species composition. These comparisons were made over both seasonal (January-December 1996) and annual (August-November 1995; August-December 1996) scales with pop net collections in a shallow (<2 m MLW) embayment within Great Bay in southern New Jersey, USA. In the complete year of sampling in 1996, more than 335,000 pelagic fish, representing 13 families (23 species), were collected during diel sampling with 12 species constituting over 99.9% of the total catch including Clupea harengus (84%), Menidia menidia (10%), and Anchoa mitchilli (4%). A detailed examination determined that nighttime species richness, total abundance and biomass may have been enhanced during some seasons by using artificial light. Diel variation in species composition was similar regardless of the use of the artificial light in all seasons but fall. Annual comparisons between 1995 and 1996 during late summer and fall found these results to be consistent. In general, these findings point out the importance of sampling during both day and night to understand the movement and abundance patterns of estuarine pelagic fishes and their ecological significance in temperate estuaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


  • Diel variation
  • Effect of artificial light
  • Estuarine pelagic fish assemblage
  • Sampling biases

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