The timing and location of settlement of two cohorts (spring and fall) of windowpane (Scophthalmus aquosus) were identified based on collections from 64 sampling locations along a corridor from the lower estuary, through the inlet, and on to the adjacent inner continental shelf in southern New Jersey. Spatio-temporal patterns of settlement during 1989-1998 were determined based on capture location and timing, and eye migration stage. Spring-spawned windowpanes were collected in estuarine, inlet and ocean habitats as larvae, during settlement, and after settlement. Densities of spring-spawned larvae (∼2-10mm standard length (SL)) peaked in May in all habitats (estuary, inlet, and ocean). Initial settlement of spring-spawned windowpane occurred during May in the inlet and ocean when fish had grown to ∼7-8 mm SL (mid-point of eye migration), but fish did not appear in demersal estuarine collections until June when they were larger and more developmentally advanced (∼24-32 mm SL; post-eye migration). A transitional settlement period, comprised of a progressive habitat shift from pelagic to demersal habitats, is proposed for the spring cohort to explain the observed patterns. Fall-spawned fish of all developmental stages and sizes were virtually absent from estuarine collections. Fall-spawned larval (∼2-10 mm SL) densities peaked in October in inlet and ocean habitats and fish began settling there during the same month at sizes similar to the spring cohort (∼7-8 mm SL). This research confirms that there are important cohort-specific and life-stage dependent differences in young-of-the-year (YOY) windowpane habitat use in southern New Jersey and perhaps in other east coast US estuaries. These differences may affect the overall contribution that each cohort makes to a given year class and thus, may have an important role in determining the recruitment dynamics of this species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science
- Early life history
- Multiple cohorts
- Scophthalmus aquosus