MEPS 308:255-269 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps308255

Growth of planktivorous bay anchovy Anchoa mitchilli, top-down control, and scale-dependence in estuarine mesocosms

William P. Mowitt1,3,*, Edward D. Houde1, Deborah C. Hinkle2, Alison Sanford2

1Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, PO Box 38, Solomons, Maryland 20688, USA
2Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, PO Box 775, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, USA
3Present address: NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA

ABSTRACT: Growth of the zooplanktivorous bay anchovy Anchoa mitchilli and its potential to control plankton communities were investigated in estuarine mesocosms. The effects of mesocosm dimensions (size and shape) on anchovy growth and grazing impact were evaluated in 2 experiments, of 6 and 15 wk duration, respectively. Estuarine mesocosms of 1 and 10 m3 volume and 2 shapes were used. The size–shape differences provided mesocosms with 3 volume-to-wall area ratios that determined how ‘pelagic’ the enclosures were. Anchovy growth rates scaled directly with mesocosm size and with mesocosm volume:wall area ratio. Growth was slowest in the least ‘pelagic’ enclosures, and fastest in the most ‘pelagic’ enclosures. The fish had a clear top-down impact on copepod populations. Mesocosms without fish supported copepods that were larger in size and of higher community biomass. Highest anchovy growth rates (and presumed consumption) occurred in mesocosms with lower mean copepod biomasses, further suggesting top-down control. Although not conclusive, trends in trophic relationships were consistent and supportive of the trophic cascade hypothesis. Mesocosms with high mean copepod biomasses tended to have low mean phytoplankton densities, and mesocosms with high anchovy growth rates tended to have high phytoplankton densities. There was no consistent evidence that top-down control by bay anchovy was related to mesocosm sizes or dimensions.

KEY WORDS: Mesocosms · Scale · Trophic cascades · Planktivorous fish

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