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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 378:187-197 (2009)  -  DOI:

Patterns of larval Atlantic croaker ingress into Chesapeake Bay, USA

Jason J. Schaffler1,*, Christian S. Reiss2, Cynthia M. Jones1

1Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, Old Dominion University, 800 W. 46th St., Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
2NOAA, Antarctic Research Division, SWFSC, 8604 La Jolla Shores Dr., La Jolla, California 92037, USA

ABSTRACT: We compared ingress patterns of Atlantic croaker Micropogonias undulatus larvae into Chesapeake Bay, USA, with published ingress patterns through barrier island inlets, the accepted model for larval fish ingress. This model asserts that larvae ingress on night flood tides at the flood-dominated side of the inlet and at all depths. At the Chesapeake Bay mouth and in the adjacent coastal waters, we compared the distribution of abundance, size, age, and growth rates of croaker prior to ingress. In contrast to the barrier island inlet model, croaker larvae were more abundant at depth than closer to the surface regardless of location. However, the response to light was variable, where croaker larvae farther offshore showed no response to light, but croaker larvae in the bay mouth were more abundant at night. Croaker larvae followed an expected pattern of increasing age and length from offshore stations to the bay mouth station. Further, among nearshore coastal stations there was evidence of larger and older croaker larvae at the northern portion of the bay mouth than at middle or southern stations. Patterns in growth were similar at all locations, indicating the likelihood of a single source location or similar environments among transport pathways for croaker larvae. Ingress can occur across the entire mouth of Chesapeake Bay; however, net tidal inflow may result in age and size structuring, which allows more rapid movement into the northern flood-dominated portions of the bay mouth.

KEY WORDS: Larval ingress · Atlantic croaker · Chesapeake Bay · Depth · Daily age

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Cite this article as: Schaffler JJ, Reiss CS, Jones CM (2009) Patterns of larval Atlantic croaker ingress into Chesapeake Bay, USA. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 378:187-197.

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