Influence of oceanographic conditions on abundance and distribution of post‐larval and juvenile carangid fishes in the northern Gulf of Mexico
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© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Relationships between abundance of post-larval and juvenile carangid (jacks) fishes and physical oceanographic conditions were examined in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) in 2011 with high freshwater input from the Mississippi River. Generalized additive models (GAMs) were used to explore complex relationships between carangid abundance and physical oceanographic data of sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface height anomaly (SSHA) and salinity. The five most abundant carangid species collected were: Selene setapinnis (34%); Caranx crysos (30%); Caranx hippos (10%); Chloroscombrus chrysurus (9%) and Trachurus lathami (8%). Post-larval carangids (median standard length [SL] = 10 mm) were less abundant during the spring and early summer, but more abundant during the late summer and fall, suggesting summer to fall spawning for most species. Juvenile carangid (median SL = 23 mm) abundance also increased between the mid-summer and early fall. Most species showed increased abundance at lower salinities and higher temperatures, suggesting entrainment of post-larval fishes or feeding aggregations of juveniles at frontal convergence zones between the expansive river plume and dynamic mesoscale eddy water masses. However, responses were species- and life-stage specific, which may indicate fine-scale habitat partitioning between species. Ordination methods also revealed higher carangid abundances at lower salinities for both post-larval and juvenile life stages, with species- and life-stage specific responses to SST and SSHA, further suggesting habitat separation between species. Results indicate strong links between physical oceanographic features and carangid distributions in the dynamic northern GoM.
author list (cited authors)
Mohan, J. A., Sutton, T. T., Cook, A. B., Boswell, K. M., & Wells, R.