Shoreline infrastructure degradation and increasing littoral naturalization accommodates juvenile fish and crab assemblages in heavily urbanized Upper New York Harbor

Thomas M. Grothues, Kenneth W. Able

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many estuarine shorelines are influenced by urbanization. Extensive shoreline modification in Upper New York Harbor (UNYH) included port development, landfilling marshes, and armoring. Recent sedimentation in constructed shipping terminal embayments, abandonment of shoreline structure maintenance, subsequent recruitment of upland and intertidal vegetation, and restoration projects have naturalized some shorelines in this urban setting. We determined the species composition and relative abundance of fishes and crabs in shallow shoreline habitats in constructed embayments of UNYH with seine sampling to determine the potential for restoring similar isolated shallow water sites as functional habitats. Twenty-seven identified species of fishes and crabs, including seasonally transient and resident marsh species, were represented in samples dominated by Menidia menidia, but marsh resident and coastal ocean species were also periodically abundant. Differences in assemblage structure among the sampled embayments as measured by principal components analysis were weak despite some differences in the slope and colonization of vegetation along shorelines. The mere presence of shallow shorelines was sufficient to recruit numerous species. Assemblage differences relative to a nearby relatively unaltered estuary revealed a lack of southern, warm affiliated species reflecting a natural clinal gradient. Marsh resident species dominated in UNYH, but not as strongly as at the reference estuary. Together with a previously published evaluation of life cycle connectivity for several sentinel species, this study shows that even small, isolated projects seeking to restore shallow shorelines add value to the estuarine landscape and are worth pursuing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-959
Number of pages13
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Keywords

  • crabs
  • fishes
  • nursery habitat
  • restoration
  • shallow
  • shoreline

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