Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Characterization of the Saltmarsh Topminnow, Fundulus jenkinsi (Everman 1892)

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


The saltmarsh topminnow (Fundulus jenkinsi) is federally listed as a Species of Concern due to a its rarity, impacts from human activities, and lack of information on its biology and ecology. From 2007 through 2008, we used Breder traps to fish the marsh edge on a falling tide in four regions from Louisiana through the Florida panhandle during winter, spring, and summer periods. Out of 2,108 Breder traps deployed, 661 F. jenkinsi were collected as far east as Escambia Bay, Florida, with Weeks Bay, National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), Alabama, yielding the highest F. jenkinsi abundance. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to ordinate physical-chemical data into two meaningful components: a geomorphic axis (water depth, bank slope, and plant stem density) and a seasonal/spatial axis of species occurrence (water temperature, salinity, and turbidity). PCA showed a higher mean catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) in environments comprised of low to moderate stem density (< 25 stems/0.25 m-2), depth (< 25 cm), bank slope (< 15 degrees), turbidity (< 30 NTU), and salinity (< 16) coupled with spring and early summer water temperatures (> 15 degrees C). F. jenkinsi CPUE was significantly higher in Spartina cynosuroides marsh edge compared with five other habitat types, even though it was one of the least sampled habitats. This species appears to be collected more frequently and in higher CPUE in small dendritic creeks off of main channels than suggested by our previous work in main channel edge habitat. This suggests that small creeks are important vectors for marsh access and supports the value of the dendritic nature of salt marshes to marsh residents.

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Estuaries and Coasts





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