Effects of Annual Droughts on Fish Communities in Mississippi Sound Estuaries

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Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


© 2018, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation. The Mississippi coastal region has two major rivers and four smaller rivers influencing the estuaries that make up the Mississippi Sound. The islands off Mississippi create a barrier which allows the area to be a widespread, productive estuarine region. With such a dependence on discharge from the drainages, it is important to understand the effect of salinity regimes on fish communities. Drought conditions in other regions have been shown to dramatically change the fish community structure. We used the long running Interjurisdictional Fisheries Program database (2006–2014) within Mississippi state waters and compared yearly fish communities between drought and non-drought years. Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling (nMDS), Analysis of Similarity (ANOSIM), and Indicator Species Analysis (ISA) were used to compare drought and non-drought conditions in the Mississippi Sound. During 2006 and 2007, which were identified as drought years by the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), differences in fish community structure were identified and compared to non-drought years (2008–2009 and 2011–2014). The ISA identified a total of eight species that were significantly influenced by drought years. Of the eight species, the abundance of seven species significantly decreased while the abundance of one species significantly increased. With an increasing human population in central and south Mississippi, pressure on freshwater resources is likely to increase, resulting in possible changes in the fish community dynamics of the Mississippi Sound. Understanding the influence of decreased river discharges will assist managers in determining the impacts of freshwater withdrawals during base flow periods.

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Estuaries and Coasts





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