MEPS 557:207-219 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11858

Temporal dynamics of condition for estuarine fishes in their nursery habitats

R. W. Schloesser1,2,*, M. C. Fabrizio1

1Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, PO Box 1346, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA
2Present address: Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The condition of individuals in a year class may contribute to recruitment variability due to differential survival of poor- and well-conditioned fish, but the temporal dynamics of juvenile fish condition are poorly understood. We examined inter- and intra-annual dynamics of condition for juveniles of 3 species collected from estuarine nursery areas of Chesapeake Bay from November 2010 to June 2014. We describe temporal patterns in length-based indices, the hepatosomatic index (HSI), and relative subdermal lipid estimates for juvenile summer flounder Paralichthys dentatus (n = 1771), Atlantic croaker Micropogonias undulatus (n = 3911), and striped bass Morone saxatilis (n = 874). Multiple indices provided a more complete understanding of energy-storage strategies for juveniles because temporal patterns among condition indices were not congruent for a given species. Most juvenile summer flounder and Atlantic croaker migrate from Chesapeake Bay in the fall, and both species exhibited increases in subdermal lipids in the time period prior to migration. For all species, individuals that remained in the estuary during winter exhibited high HSI values, indicating a common energy-storage strategy during winter. Mean condition of juveniles varied among year classes, but differences were inconsistent among indices, suggesting that energy was differentially stored among tissues for these year classes. Density-dependent effects contributed to variation in mean condition for summer flounder and striped bass. Our understanding of recruitment variability may be improved by assessing annual differences in mean condition as revealed by multiple indices.


KEY WORDS: Fulton’s K · Hepatosomatic index · Subdermal lipid · Fish fatmeter · Juveniles · Bioenergetics · Recruitment


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Cite this article as: Schloesser RW, Fabrizio MC (2016) Temporal dynamics of condition for estuarine fishes in their nursery habitats. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 557:207-219. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11858

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