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Diet of Winter Flounder in a New Jersey Estuary: Ontogenetic Change and Spatial Variation

Linda L. Stehlik and Carol J. Meise
Estuaries
Vol. 23, No. 3 (Jun., 2000), pp. 381-391
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1353330
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Diet of Winter Flounder in a New Jersey Estuary: Ontogenetic Change and Spatial Variation
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Abstract

Juvenile and adult winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus Walbaum (Pleuronectidae), from the Navesink River and Sandy Hook Bay, New Jersey, U. S., were examined for ontogenetic, seasonal, and spatial variation in dietary content. Fish (n = 1291 non-empty) were placed by cluster analysis of dietary content into three size groups: 15-49, 50-299, and ≥300 mm total length. Clear ontogenetic patterns were revealed, in particular the disappearance of calanoid copepods from the diet as fish grew >50 mm and an increase in number of taxa in the diet with growth. Fish in size group 1 fed upon spionid polychaetes, the calanoid copepod Eurytemora affinis, and ampeliscid amphipods. Fish in size group 2 added various species of polychaetes, amphipods, and siphons of the bivalve Mya arenaria to their diets. Size group 2 was present during all months of the survey, but only minor seasonal differences in their diet were apparent. One obvious change was the increase in consumption of the shrimp Crangon septemspinosa in summer and fall. Size group 3 fish, collected mainly in fall, ate large volumes of M. arenaria and glycerid polychaetes. Cluster analysis showed a large-scale spatial pattern in diet among fish of size group 1, related to the presence of E. affinis in winter flounder diets in the river and a marsh cove in the bay. Small-scale spatial differences in diets of fish in size group 2 were possibly related to prey distribution.

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