Factoring scales of spatial and temporal variation in fish abundance in a subtropical estuary Academic Article uri icon


  • We employed a new approach linking multivariate and time series analyses to identify common versus unique spatiotemporal components of abundance variation of marine spawning fishes recruiting into a subtropical Western Atlantic estuary. Based on a 10 yr standardized monthly data set, we also investigated patterns of association for local and regional factors with annual and inter-annual variation in abundance of 5 dominant marine estuarine-dependent fishes. The total amount of variation in fish abundance explained by environmental variables was 22.4%. After factoring out shared spatiotemporal variation (0.8%), our analysis showed that temporal components had an almost 5-fold greater contribution (28.0%) than spatial components (6.4%) in explaining the variation in abundance of the 5 species. Most of the variation across the temporal scale (58.5%) was associated with annual (from 0.5 to 1.3 yr) rather than multi-year oscillations (>2 yr). Such annual patterns were probably associated with adaptations of marine estuarine- dependent fishes for exploiting predictable pulses in seasonal productivity typically found in subtropical estuaries. In contrast, inter-annual variation in abundance occurring at a scale of 3 to 7 yr could be attributed to rainfall anomalies associated with El Nio Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, whereas those occurring at a scale of 2 yr could be influenced by the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Our findings corroborate the hypothesis that prevalent annual patterns of variation in the abundance of marine estuarine-dependent fishes are associated with predictable productivity pulses linked to the annual temperature regime, whereas inter-annual variations in fish abundance are associated with the influence of large-scale climatic phenomena. Inter-Research 2012 www.int-res.com.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Garcia, A. M., Vieira, J. P., Winemiller, K. O., Moraes, L. E., & Paes, E. T.

citation count

  • 38

complete list of authors

  • Garcia, AM||Vieira, JP||Winemiller, KO||Moraes, LE||Paes, ET

publication date

  • August 2012