Alternate Title

Spatial and Temporal Variations in the Species Composition of Bycatch Collected During a Striped Mullet (Mugil cephalus) Survey


We examined the variations in species composition of bycatch collected in an annual spawning-season survey of striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, in Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor, FL. Bycatch was defined as all species captured with the collection gear other than the target species, M. cephalus. Variations between habitat types, between months, and between years in the species composition of bycatch captured 1993-96 in this ongoing survey were examined using a nonparametric analysis of variance based on Bray-Curtis similarities. Mugil cephalus was the dominant species collected in both study areas, representing 16%-100% of the annual catch. Lagodon rhomboides and Arius felis were the most abundant bycatch species in Tampa Bay, and A. felis and Mugil curema were the most abundant bycatch species in Charlotte Harbor. Archosargus probatocephalus, Sciaenops ocellatus, and Cynoscion nebulosus composed the majority of the remaining bycatch species collected. Bycatch species composition was not significantly different between months, although indices of species richness (Margalef's index, d), species diversity (Shannon index, H' ), and evenness (Pielou's index, J') declined from fall to winter in each year. Species composition differed significantly between riverine and bay habitats and between habitats with and without bottom vegetation (seagrass). Samples from seagrass habitats had more L. rhomboides, A. probatocephalus, and S. ocellatus, and samples from habitats without seagrass had more A. felis. Indices of species richness, diversity, and evenness were lowest in 1996 as a result of increased catches of M. cephalus and decreased occurrence of bycatch in survey samples. The implementation of the Florida net ban in 1995 may have brought about this increased abundance of M. cephalus and concomitant decrease in the percentage of bycatch captured in survey samples in 1996.