Alternate Title

Utilization of Saltmarsh Shorelines by Newly Settled Sciaenids in a Texas Estuary

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Post-settlement patterns of habitat use along saltmarsh shorelines of Galveston Bay, Texas were examined for three sciaenids; spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), and Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus). Collections were made summer through fall of 1997 and 1998 using a 1.5-m beam trawl hand-towed along the outside edge of salt marshes. Sciaenids were collected from tidal pass, bay, and remote tidal creek areas to assess large-scale (bay-wide) patterns of distribution and abundance. Cynoscion nebulosus were smaller and most numerous at bay stations, with densities peaking in June. Conversely, S. ocellatus were collected in higher numbers, and smaller sizes, at stations near the tidal pass, with peak densities in September. Micropogonias undulatus occurred in high numbers near both the tidal pass and remote tidal creeks, with undetectable size differences among areas and peak densities in November. Densities of C. nebulosus and S. ocellatus were greater at sites nearer the larval supply; patterns were less clear for M. undulatus. Small-scale patterns of habitat use were investigated within remote tidal creeks, with trends in density and size apparent for M. undulatus, while few C. nebulosus and S. ocellatus were collected. Interannual variability in densities occurred within and among stations, although total densities for each species were relatively similar between 1997 and 1998.

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