Vegetation effects on fish distribution in impounded salt marshes

Southeastern Naturalist
By: , and 



We compared the density and biomass of resident fish in vegetated and unvegetated flooded habitats of impounded salt marshes in the northern Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Estuary of east-central Florida. A 1-m2 throw trap was used to sample fish in randomly located, paired sample plots (n = 198 pairs) over 5 seasons in 7 impoundments. We collected a total of 15 fish taxa, and 88% of the fishes we identified from the samples belonged to three species: Cyprinodon variegatus (Sheepshead Minnow), Gambusia holbrooki (Eastern Mosquitofish), and Poecilia latipinna (Sailfin Molly). Vegetated habitat usually had higher density and biomass of fish. Mean fish density (and 95% confidence interval) for vegetated and unvegetated sites were 8.2 (6.7–9.9) and 2.0 (1.6–2.4) individuals m-2, respectively; mean biomass (and 95%) confidence interval) for vegetated and unvegetated sites were 3.0 (2.5–3.7) and 1.1 (0.9–1.4) g m-2, respectively. We confirmed previous findings that impounded salt marshes of the northern IRL Estuary produce a high standing stock of resident fishes. Seasonal patterns of abundance were consistent with fish moving between vegetated and unvegetated habitat as water levels changed in the estuary. Differences in density, mean size, and species composition of resident fishes between vegetated and unvegetated habitats have important implications for movement of biomass and nutrients out of salt marsh by piscivores (e.g., wading birds and fishes) via a trophic relay.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Vegetation effects on fish distribution in impounded salt marshes
Series title Southeastern Naturalist
DOI 10.1656/058.008.0311
Volume 8
Issue 3
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Eagle Hill Institute
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 12 p.
First page 503
Last page 514
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Indian River Lagoon
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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