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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Spatial and temporal variation in the species diversity of coastal California fish eggs

Emma S. Choi*, Laura E. Furtado, Ronald S. Burton

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ichthyoplankton studies can be used to assess the abundance, distribution, and reproductive activity of marine fishes, but few studies have monitored spawning activity at inshore sites. This study utilized weekly plankton sampling to construct a year long time series of fish spawning at six pier sites along the California coast – Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Newport Beach and La Jolla; sampling at the La Jolla site continues on-going monitoring initiated in 2012. Fish eggs were sorted from the collected plankton and identified to species level using DNA barcoding of the COI and 16S genes. While only one year of data has been collected from five of the sites, the two sites north of Point Conception show markedly reduced diversity compared to the southern sites. Although the species observed reflect the local environment of each site, this pattern of reduced diversity at the northern sites is consistent with the well documented decline in species richness with latitude along the California coast. The seven-year time series from La Jolla has revealed that spawning activity varies greatly among years, both in egg production and species diversity with a continuing trend of highest egg numbers in years with colder average winter sea surface temperature.