We examined the spatial and temporal distribution, abundance, and growth of young-of-the-year (YOY) Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) in Delaware Bay, one of the northernmost estuaries in which they consistently occur along the east coast of the United States. Sampling in Delaware Bay and in tidal creeks in salt marshes adjacent to the bay with otter trawls, plankton nets and weirs, between April and November 1996-99, collected approximately 85,000 YOY. Ingress of each year class into the bay and tidal creeks consistently occurred in the fall, and the first few YOY appeared in August. Larvae as small as 2-3 mm TL were collected in September and October 1996. Epibenthic individuals <25 mm TL were present each fall and again during spring of each year, but not in 1996 when low water temperatures in January and February apparently caused widespread mortality, resulting in their absence the following spring and summer. In 1998 and 1999, a second size class of smaller YOY entered the bay and tidal creeks in June. When YOY survived the winter, there was no evidence of growth until after April. Then the YOY grew rapidly through the summer in all habitats (0.8-1.4 mm/d from May through August). In the bay, they were most abundant from June to August over mud sediments in oligohaline waters. They were present in both subtidal and intertidal creeks in the marshes where they were most abundant from April to June in the mesohaline portion of the lower bay. The larger YOY began egressing out of the marshes in late summer, and the entire year class left the tidal creeks at lengths of 100-200 mm TL by October or November when the next year class was ingressing. These patterns of seasonal distribution and abundance in Delaware Bay and the adjacent marshes are similar to those observed in more southern estuaries along the east coast; however, growth is faster - in keeping with that in other northern estuaries.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||16|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2003|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science