Hurricanes are climatically-induced resource pulses that affect community structure through the combination of physical and chemical habitat change. Estuaries are susceptible to hurricane pulses and are thought to be resilient to habitat change, because biotic communities often return quickly to pre-hurricane conditions. Although several examples provide evidence of quick recovery of estuarine nekton communities following a hurricane, few studies take place in tidal freshwater habitat where physical habitat effects can be extensive and may not be readily mitigated. We examined nekton communities (density, biomass, ?? and ?? diversity, % occurrence by residence status) in tidal freshwater marshes in Breton Sound, Louisiana, before and after a direct hit by Hurricane Katrina (2005). Vegetative marsh loss in the study area was extensive, and elevated salinity persisted for almost 6 months. Post-Katrina nekton density and biomass increased significantly, and the nekton community shifted from one of tidal freshwater/resident species to one containing brackish/migrant species, many of which are characterized by pelagic and benthic life history strategies. By spring 2007, the nekton community had shifted back to tidal freshwater/resident species, despite the enduring loss of vegetated marsh habitat. ?? 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
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The effect of Hurricane Katrina on nekton communities in the tidal freshwater marshes of Breton Sound, Louisiana, USA