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Characterization of ichthyoplankton within the U.S. Geological Survey's Northeastern Gulf of Mexico study area - based on analysis of Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) Sampling Surveys, 1982-1999. NEGOM ichthyoplankton synopsis final report

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5059

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Abstract

This synthesis was undertaken to characterize the occurrence and abundance of fish eggs and larvae in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (NEGOM) and to assess the region's relative importance in the early life history of fishes as compared to the entire U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Data for 66 selected taxa from 1,166 bongo and neuston net samples at 72 localities [comprising the UGSG NEGOM Ichthyoplankton Synopsis (UNIS) Study Area] were analyzed. These data were taken during annual Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) gulfwide surveys from 1982-1999, and were summarized by the NMFS to accomplish this objective. Comparison of the UNIS Study Area with the overall SEAMAP survey area revealed that the larvae of 16 taxa occurred more frequently and were relatively more abundant in the UNIS Study Area than the entire SEAMAP survey area while for other taxa occurrence and relative abundance were comparable. These taxa represented fishes from mesopelagic, continental shelf, and reef assemblages reflecting the wide diversity of habitats available in the NEGOM and included the young of two important resource taxa, Rhomboplites aurorubens (vermilion snapper) and Seriola spp. (amberjacks). Distinct distribution patterns were observed among larvae in the UNIS Study Area that appear to be associated with the presence of the DeSoto Canyon. One notable pattern was the predominance of certain taxa to either the west or east of longitude 86.5-87.0o W. Larvae of several characteristic reef-fish families were most common to the east of this apparent zoogeographic faunal discontinuity. An alternative pattern was seen among taxa whose larvae occurred primarily at locations over depth contours outlining the canyon. Additionally, the UNIS Study Area contributed more fish eggs, total larvae, and zooplankton to survey totals than would be expected from the number of samples taken in the study area. This pattern was more evident during spring than fall surveys. It may relate to the close proximity of UNIS Study Area stations to the Mississippi River and the penetration of DeSoto Canyon, with its nutrient-rich deep slope water, into the inner shelf. The consistent presence of fish eggs throughout the NEGOM at mean abundances exceeding 100 eggs per 10 m? sea surface indicates that this region of the Gulf of Mexico is an important spawning area. The present synopsis has revealed that the NEGOM, as represented by the UNIS Study Area, should be considered an important, if not critical, habitat for the young stages of a diverse assemblage of fish taxa. The greatest biological deficiency in this synopsis is our current inability to identify the larvae of all species to a consistent taxonomic level.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Characterization of ichthyoplankton within the U.S. Geological Survey's Northeastern Gulf of Mexico study area - based on analysis of Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) Sampling Surveys, 1982-1999. NEGOM ichthyoplankton synopsis final report
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2004-5059
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2004
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
136 p.