Importance of shoreface sand ridges as habitat for fishes off the northeast coast of the United States

James M. Vasslides, Kenneth W. Able

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


To determine if shoreface sand ridges provide unique habitats for fish on the inner continental shelf, two cross-shelf trawl surveys (23 km in length) were conducted in southern New Jersey (July and September 1991-95 with a beam trawl and July and September 1997-06 with an otter trawl) to assess whether species abundance, richness, and assemblages differed on and away from the ridge. The dominant species collected with both gears were from the families Paralichthyidae, Triglidae, Gobiidae, Serranidae, Engraulidae, Stromateidae, and Sciaenidae. Overall abundance (n = 41,451 individuals) and species richness (n = 61 species) were distributed bimodally across the nearshore to offshore transect, and the highest values were found on either side of the sand ridge regardless of gear type. Canonical correspondence analysis revealed three species assemblages: inshore (<5 meters depth), near-ridge (9-14 meters depth), and offshore (>14 meters depth), and variation in species composition between gear types. Environmental factors that corresponded with the assemblage changes included depth, temperature, distance from the top of the ridge, and habitat complexity. The most abundant near-ridge assemblages were distinct and included economically important species. Sand ridges of the inner continental shelf appear to be important habitat for a number of fish species and therefore may not be a suitable area for sand and gravel mining.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages15
JournalFishery Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science


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