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Assessing the Use of Saltmarsh Flats by Fish in a Temperate Australian Embayment
S. M. Crinall and J. S. Hindell
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Aug., 2004), pp. 728-739
Published by: Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1353482
Page Count: 12
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Little is known about the importance of saltmarshes to juvenile and adult fishes in temperate Australia. We assessed diel and feeding patterns of fish inhabiting saltmarsh in a sheltered embayment along the coast of Victoria, Australia, between October 2002 and May 2003. The saltmarsh flat was generally only inundated during low-pressure weather systems (barometric pressure <1,013 hP). Fish were sampled over the saltmarsh flats using fyke and seine nets. A total of 2,047 individuals (10 species, including juveniles and adults) were caught. Atherinasoma microstoma was most abundant (fyke [F], μ =1.6 fish h-1; seine [S], μ =28.2 fish shot-1, followed by Favonigobius lateralis (F: 0.5; S: 0.6), Galaxias maculatus (F: 0.1), Heteroclinus adelaide (F: < 0.1), Kestratherina esox (F: < 0.1; S: 1.6), Leptatherina presbyteroides (F: < 0.1; S: 7.1) and Tetractenos glaber (F: 1). Commercial species, including Aldrichetta forsteri (F: < 0.1; S: 3.2), Sillaginodes punctata (F: < 0.1; S: 0.9), and Rhombosolea tapirina (F: 0.4), were commonly sampled. Variability in species richness or fish abundance was not explained by water temperature, salinity, depth, or barometric pressure. Significantly more species were sampled with the seine during nocturnal periods (p = 0.002); fish abundance did not vary between diel periods, nor did fish abundance and species richness in fyke net samples. Diets of the most abundant species (A. microstoma, A. forsteri, and F. lateralis) were primarily composed of gammaridean amphipods and hemipteran insects. There was no correlation between fish diets and the composition of benthic invertebrates as sampled at 3 different regions of the saltmarsh flat. The saltmarsh flats in our study region are inhabited by several species normally associated with alternative habitat types such as seagrass, and the patterns of habitat use observed appear to be partially attributed to foraging behavior.
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