Alternate Title

Early Growth of Three Kingfish (Menticirrhus) Species Found in Coastal Waters of the Northern Gulf of Mexico

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Southern kingfish (Menticirrhus americanus), gulf kingfish (M. littoralis), and northern kingfish (M. saxatilis) are members of the drum family (Sciaenidae) that are widespread in coastal habitats of the western Atlantic, including in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Despite their economic and ecological importance, little is known about growth of young kingfish. Young kingfish were collected from four different Mississippi shoreline habitats in 2005 and 2006; two associated with barrier islands and two along the mainland. Barrier island habitats included surf zones on the south shore and grass beds on the north shore. Mainland habitats were located along marsh-edges and sandy shorelines. Kingfish growth comparisons were made using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) on 194 aged fish (127 M. americanus, 54 M. littoralis, and 13 M. saxatilis). Growth rates for all three species were generally similar ranging from about 0.7mm/day at 4-6 mm standard length (SL) to 1.9mm/day at 55-60mm SL. In 2005, M. americanus from marsh-edges grew significantly faster than those from sandy shorelines. Size-at-age of M. americanus and M. littoralis was significantly smaller in the spring than in the summer and fall, while both growth rate and size—at—age were similar in the summer and fall.

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