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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 394:179-193 (2009)  -  DOI:

Using nekton growth as a metric for assessing habitat restoration by marsh terracing

Lawrence P. Rozas1,*, Thomas J. Minello2

1NOAA Fisheries Service, Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center, 646 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, Louisiana 70506, USA
2National Marine Fisheries Service, Galveston Laboratory, 4700 Avenue U, Galveston, Texas 77551, USA

ABSTRACT: We conducted field growth experiments to evaluate marsh-terracing restoration in Galveston Bay, Texas (USA). Growth rates were compared for selected species held in mesocosms for ~7 d within 4 habitat type treatments: terrace marsh edge (TerM), terrace pond (TerP), reference marsh edge (RefM), and reference pond (RefP). Environmental variables were measured during each experiment, and values measured inside the experimental mesocosms generally tracked outside values. Mean daily growth rates were 0.7 to 1.9 mm (30 to 143 mg) for brown shrimp Farfantepenaeus aztecus, 0.4 to 1.2 mm (8 to 67 mg) for white shrimp Litopenaeus setiferus, 0.3 to 0.6 mm (15 to 194 mg) for blue crab Callinectes sapidus, and 0.1 to 0.4 mm (0.3 to 3 mg) for daggerblade grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio. No difference was detected in growth rates among treatments for blue crab and daggerblade grass shrimp. White shrimp growth rates in August 2002 were higher in TerP than RefP, and in October 2002, were higher in RefP than TerM. Brown shrimp grew more rapidly in RefM than TerM in early May 2003, but mean growth rates were similar in both habitat types later in May 2003, and significantly lower than growth rates in RefP and TerP. Even though growth rates were not consistently higher in terrace habitat types, production rates may be higher in terrace fields than over shallow non-vegetated bottom (the habitat type replaced by marsh terracing); much higher densities of fishery species in terrace habitats more than compensate for occasionally lower growth rates there. However, our production rates should be used cautiously, because we did not include mortality rates in these estimates. We recommend using a combination of different metrics, including mortality rate, to assess secondary productivity of marsh terracing or other restoration projects.

KEY WORDS: Growth · Penaeid shrimp · Field experiment · Marsh terracing · Restoration

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Cite this article as: Rozas LP, Minello TJ (2009) Using nekton growth as a metric for assessing habitat restoration by marsh terracing. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 394:179-193.

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