Variability in habitat use by young-of-the-year winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, in three northeastern U.S. estuaries

Ronald Goldberg, Beth Phelan, Jose Pereira, Stacy Hagan, Paul Clark, Allen Bejda, Anthony Calabrese, Anne Studholme, Kenneth W. Able

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33 Scopus citations

Abstract

We compared distribution and abundance by habitat for age-0, young-of-the-year (YOY) winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, in three estuaries (Hammonasset River, Navesink River, and Great Bay-Little Egg Harbor) in the northeastern United States to better define essential fish habitat (EFH). Two replicates of five representative habitats were sampled in most estuaries: eelgrass (Zostera marina), unvegetated areas adjacent to eelgrass, macroalgae, (primarily Ulva lactuca), unvegetated areas adjacent to macroalgae, and tidal marsh creeks. Fish were sampled every two weeks, May through October 1995 and 1996, with a beam-trawl (1-m width, 3-mm mesh net). Abundance of YOY winter flounder was highest in the Navesink River estuary and similar between years, but was significantly lower and differed between years in the Great Bay-Little Egg Harbor and Hammonasset River estuaries. Annual temperature differences appear to influence estuary use by YOY. In the years and estuaries studied, where habitat-related differences in abundance were significant, YOY were found in higher densities in unvegetated areas adjacent to eelgrass. The exception was in the Hammonasset River in 1995 when densities were higher in eelgrass. We conclude that the type of habitat most important to YOY winter flounder varies among estuaries and as a result, care should be taken in defining EFH, based only on limited spatial and temporal sampling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-226
Number of pages12
JournalEstuaries
Volume25
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science(all)

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    Goldberg, R., Phelan, B., Pereira, J., Hagan, S., Clark, P., Bejda, A., Calabrese, A., Studholme, A., & Able, K. W. (2002). Variability in habitat use by young-of-the-year winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, in three northeastern U.S. estuaries. Estuaries, 25(2), 215-226.