Alternate Title

A Comparison of the Fish Populations and Habitat in Open and Closed Salt Marsh Impoundments in East-Central Florida


Historical and recent biological surveys including aerial and ground level photographs reveal gross changes in vegetation and fish habitat associated with impoundment and flooding of salt marshes bordering the Indian River lagoon in east-central Florida. These studies show a depauperate ichthyofauna and floral association in impoundments excluded from estuarine tidal influence.

Monthly collections of fishes made during 1979 and 1980 are used to compare two marsh impoundments: one closed to tidal influence from the Indian River lagoon and the other reopened to tidal influence through a single 80 em diameter culvert. The closed impoundment was found to contain a depauperate ichthyofauna consisting of 12 species collected under stressed environmental conditions. Water temperatures ranged from 14 to 34° C, salinities fluctuated widely from 2.0 to 200 ppt and dissolved oxygen was measured as low as 1.2 and as high as 14.2 ppm. The open impoundment contained a far richer ichthyofauna with 41 fish species captured at temperatures of 13.5 to 30° C, salinities of 25 to 38 ppt and dissolved oxygen levels of 2.2 to 7.5 ppm. The open impoundment also demonstrated extensive regrowth of marsh vegetation.