Alternate Title

Fishery Habitat in Estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico: Reflections on Geographical Variability in Salt Marsh Value and Function

Document Type

Ocean Reflections


After 35 years working with many estuarine ecologists, I have concluded that all salt marshes are not created equal. This may seem like a trivial conclusion, but not everyone is a believer. While coastal salt marshes have many important ecological functions, their ability to support marine fisheries appears dependent on some specific characteristics. Extensive flooding of the marsh surface and a large amount of edge per area of vegetation have been identified as important in supporting production of juvenile brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus), white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus), and blue crab (Callinectes sapidus). Data on other species are limited, but these same qualities also may support production of Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) and Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus). These characteristics are common in the salt marshes of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico and are partly responsible for the high fishery production in the region. Wetland loss in this region also is extensive and related to wetland value, and success in creating new salt marshes that support fisheries will depend on establishing these same characteristics of edge and elevation that make the natural marshes valuable.

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Thomas J. Minello biography.pdf (121 kB)
Thomas J. Minello biography

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