Sampling fishes in vegetated intertidal wetlands is logistically challenging. We modified the 2 ?? 3-m2 bottomless lift net developed for sampling nekton (fish and decapod crustaceans) on the surface of salt marshes for use in tidal mangrove forests with a woody (as opposed to herbaceous) underground root system. As originally designed (Rozas, Mar Ecol Prog Ser 89:287-292, 1992), the lift net was buried directly in the marsh substrate. The net was raised at slack high tide thereby encircling nekton within the enclosed area. A chain-line on the net bottom prevented escape under the net once deployed. However, when we used this same design in tidal mangrove forests, the extensive woody roots and occasional slumping sediments resulted in uneven trenches that could not be cleared effectively during sample recovery. We made 3 modifications to the original net design: (i) lined the peat trenches with aluminum channels of uniform width and depth; (ii) replaced the previous chain-line with Velcro closures that directly attached the net to the inner face of the outer wall of the aluminum channel; and (iii) removed the subtidal pan previously used for concentrating the enclosed nekton at low tide, and filled in those depressions with on-site peat. In the modified version, the aluminum trench became the only subtidal refuge available to nekton, and it was from here that we collected the sample after the forest drained. These modifications permitted high clearing efficiency (93-100%) of fin-clipped individuals of two common species of estuarine resident fishes, Kryptolebias marmoratus (mangrove rivulus) and Bathygobius soporator (frillfin goby). Additionally, the density estimates of grass shrimp (Palaemonetes spp.) increased 10-fold post-modification. ?? 2010 US Government.
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Modifications to the bottomless lift net for sampling nekton in tidal mangrove forests