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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 651:125-143 (2020)  -  DOI:

Spatial ecology and growth in early life stages of bay anchovy Anchoa mitchilli in Chesapeake Bay (USA)

Toby D. Auth1,*, Timo Arula2,3,*, Edward D. Houde2, Ryan J. Woodland2

1Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, 2030 Marine Science Drive, Newport, OR 97365, USA
2University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, PO Box 38, Solomons, MD 20688, USA
3Estonian Marine Institute, University of Tartu, Mäealuse 14, 12618 Tallinn, Estonia
*Corresponding authors: ,

ABSTRACT: The bay anchovy Anchoa mitchilli is the most abundant fish in Chesapeake Bay (USA) and is a vital link between plankton and piscivores within the trophic structure of this large estuarine ecosystem. Baywide distributions and abundances of bay anchovy eggs and larvae, and larval growth, were analyzed in a 5 yr program to evaluate temporal and spatial variability based on research surveys in the 1995-1999 spawning seasons. Effects of environmental variability and abundance of zooplankton that serve as prey for larval bay anchovy were analyzed. In the years of these surveys, 97.6% of eggs and 98.8% of larvae occurred in the polyhaline lower bay. Median egg and larval abundances differed more than 10-fold for surveys conducted in the 5 yr and were highest in the lower bay. Within years, median larval abundance (ind. m-2) in the lower bay was generally 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than upper-bay abundance. Salinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen explained 12% of the spatial and temporal variability in egg abundances and accounted for 27% of the variability in larval abundances. The mean, baywide growth rate for larvae over the 5 yr period was 0.75 ± 0.01 mm d-1, and was best explained by zooplankton concentration and feeding incidence. Among years, mean growth rates ranged from 0.68 (in 1999) to 0.81 (in 1998) mm d-1 and were fastest in the upper bay. We identified environmental factors, especially salinity, that contributed to broadscale variability in egg and larval production.

KEY WORDS: Larval bay anchovy · Abundance · Growth · Spatiotemporal variation · Chesapeake Bay

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Cite this article as: Auth TD, Arula T, Houde ED, Woodland RJ (2020) Spatial ecology and growth in early life stages of bay anchovy Anchoa mitchilli in Chesapeake Bay (USA). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 651:125-143.

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