MEPS 312:291-295 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps312291

Marine nurseries and effective juvenile habitats: concepts and applications

Craig P. Dahlgren1,*, G. Todd Kellison2,10, Aaron J. Adams3, Bronwyn M. Gillanders4, Matthew S. Kendall5, Craig A. Layman6, Janet A. Ley7, Ivan Nagelkerken8, Joseph E. Serafy9

1Perry Institute for Marine Science, 100 N. US Highway 1, Suite 202, Jupiter, Florida 33477, USA
2Biscayne National Park, 9700 SW 328th Street, Homestead, Florida 33033, USA
3Mote Marine Lab, Charlotte Harbor Field Station, PO Box 2197, Pineland, Florida 33945, USA
4Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, Darling Building, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
5NOAA Biogeography Team, 1305 East West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
6Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University; PO Box 208106, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8106, USA
7Australian Maritime College, PO Box 21, Beauty Point, Tasmania 7270, Australia
8Department of Animal Ecology and Ecophysiology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
9National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
10Present address: National Marine Fischeries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, USA

ABSTRACT: Much recent attention has been focused on juvenile fish and invertebrate habitat use, particularly defining and identifying marine nurseries. The most significant advancement in this area has been the development of a standardized framework for assessing the relative importance of juvenile habitats and classifying the most productive as nurseries. Within this framework, a marine nursery is defined as a juvenile habitat for a particular species that contributes a greater than average number of individuals to the adult population on a per-unit-area basis, as compared to other habitats used by juveniles. While the nursery definition and framework provides a powerful approach to identifying habitats for conservation and restoration efforts, it can omit habitats that have a small per-unit-area contribution to adult populations, but may be essential for sustaining adult populations. Here we build on the nursery concept by developing a framework for evaluating juvenile habitats based on their overall contribution to adult populations, and introduce the concept of Effective Juvenile Habitat (EJH) to refer to habitats that make a greater than average overall contribution to adult populations.

KEY WORDS: Habitat · Juvenile · Nursery · Nearshore

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