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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 377:203-212 (2009)  -  DOI:

Spatio-temporal patterns of larval fish ingress to Chincoteague Bay, Maryland, USA during winter and spring 2004 to 2007

Joseph W. Love1,*, Daniel F. Luers1, Branson D. Williams1,2

1University of Maryland Eastern Shore, NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center, Department of Natural Sciences, Princess Anne, Maryland 21853, USA
2Present address: College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, PO Box 1346, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA

ABSTRACT: We documented larval fish ingress to Chincoteague Bay (Maryland, USA) for 3 field seasons (December 2004 to April 2005, November 2005 to April 2006, November 2006 to April 2007) to evaluate spatial and temporal differences in ichthyoplankton catches. Larval fish assemblages were represented by 11 species. The most abundant larvae included American eel Anguilla rostrata, summer flounder Paralichthys dentatus, and spot Leiostomus xanthurus. Common larval fishes did not differ in number between northern and southern inlets that provide access between Chincoteague Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, but did differ among years and between seasons. Wind angle and offshore water temperature were predictive of ingress for some species, but patterns were not strong. Canonical correspondence analyses of ichthyoplankton assemblage data indicated that ingress was better predicted by season and year rather than specific environmental variables (e.g. offshore water temperature, moon phase, wind angle). Seasonal patterns in larval fish ingress were consistent with those from other coastal lagoon networks along the eastern USA seaboard. Preliminary work suggests that interannual variation in larval fish abundance was generally related to juvenile fish abundance. We encourage more efforts aimed at larval fish monitoring, which may serve as a relatively inexpensive method for addressing larger spatio-temporal scale questions about fish recruitment.

KEY WORDS: Environment · Coastal bay · Inlet · Recruitment · Marine · Estuary

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Cite this article as: Love JW, Luers DF, Williams BD (2009) Spatio-temporal patterns of larval fish ingress to Chincoteague Bay, Maryland, USA during winter and spring 2004 to 2007. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 377:203-212.

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