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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 448:143-154 (2012)  -  DOI:

Settlement patterns of young-of-the-year rockfish among six Oregon estuaries experiencing different levels of human development

Alison D. Dauble1,3,*, Scott A. Heppell1, Mattias L. Johansson2,4

1Oregon State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
2Oregon State University, Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
3Present address: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Resources Program, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
4Present address: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201, USA

ABSTRACT: In the US Pacific Northwest, rockfishes Sebastes spp. have recently become a focus for increased management efforts; several species are currently managed under extreme conservation measures due to low population levels and intense fishing pressure. Rockfish recruitment is extremely variable, and a better understanding of the factors influencing recruitment and settlement would assist in prioritizing management and conservation efforts. The goal of this study was to investigate natural and anthropogenic influences on the estuarine settlement process of rockfishes, with a focus on black rockfish S. melanops. Trap surveys conducted in 6 Oregon estuaries indicate that young-of-the-year (YOY; Age-0) rockfish utilize multiple Oregon estuaries from spring through late fall. As shown by late season increases in catch rates and the capture of multiple Age-1 individuals, rockfishes may be present in highly developed estuaries through their first winter. Genetic identification confirms that the majority of the YOY rockfish captured during this study were black rockfish S. melanops. Catches were higher in the more developed estuaries, suggesting that the continued development of Oregon estuaries may not adversely affect the rockfish settlement process. This study provides strong evidence of widespread use of estuarine habitat by black rockfish on the Oregon coast during their first year of life, and provides additional support that structure is an important component to the settlement process.

KEY WORDS: Sebastes melanops · Larval ecology · Estuarine habitat use · Anthropogenic development

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Cite this article as: Dauble AD, Heppell SA, Johansson ML (2012) Settlement patterns of young-of-the-year rockfish among six Oregon estuaries experiencing different levels of human development. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 448:143-154.

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