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Settlement, abundance, growth and mortality of juvenile flatfish in a subtropical tidal estuary (Georgia, U.S.A.)
Reichert, M.J.M.; van der Veer, H.W. (1991). Settlement, abundance, growth and mortality of juvenile flatfish in a subtropical tidal estuary (Georgia, U.S.A.). Neth. J. Sea Res. 27(3-4): 375-391
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Reichert, M.J.M.
  • van der Veer, H.W.

    The population dynamics of juveniles of some flatfish species were studied in the Duplin River, a tidal creek in a subtropical salt-marsh area in Georgia, U.S.A. from April until September 1990. Seven species were found. Paralichthys dentatus, Paralichthys lethostigma, Paralichthys oblongus and Trinectus maculatus were relatively rare. Etropus crossotus, Citharichthys spilopterus and Symphurus plagiusa were abundant and settled during the period studied. E. crossotus was the most abundant species with a mean abundance of 18 ind·10-2 m-2 (max. 287). Demersal settlement of E. crossotus took place in shallow areas and over sandy bottoms from mid-May to August. Prolonged settlement hampered the calculation of growth rate and instantaneous mortality rate. However, laboratory growth experiments indicated a mean growth of about 0.50 mm·d-1 at 24-28°C. Juveniles of C. spilopterus were already present in the Duplin River in March. Settling continued until the end of April with a mean abundance of 3.5 ind·10-2 m-2 (max. 183). With increasing size the juveniles of this species tended to migrate to deeper waters and to the mouth of the river, possibly as a reaction to increasing water temperatures. Maximum growth rate was 1.4 mm·d-1 at about 26°C. The mean instantaneous mortality rate (z) was estimated at 0.03·d-1. Settling of S. plagiusa occurred from mid-May onwards. The mean abundance was 10.3 ind·10-2 m-2 (max. 98.3). Newly settled juveniles were most abundant on muddy sediments in the shallow river areas. The maximum growth rate was 1.3 mm·d-1 at about 28°C. The mean instantaneous mortality rate (Z) decreased from 0.04·d-1 in April to 0.01·d-1 in August. At all sites the abundance of juveniles of this species decreased with increasing water depth. Predation experiments indicated that blue crabs (Callinectes similis and C. sapidus) and sea robins (Prionotus sp.) are potential predators on juvenile flatfish. The high abundances of juvenile flatfish indicate that the tidal creeks are an important nursery area. The correspondence between growth rates estimated from field data and those observed in the laboratory suggests that growth in the nursery is mainly related to water temperature and not food limited.

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