, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 552-569

Spatial and temporal variation in estuarine fish and invertebrate assemblages: Analysis of an 11-year data set

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Protocols for monitoring wetland mitigation and restoration projects call for routine counts of animals, yet long-term spatial and temporal patterns are rarely examined. An analysis of monitoring data from three southern California estuaries spanning 11 years, four seasons, and multiple stations within the estuaries revealed differences in spatio-temporal patterns between fish and invertebrates. Ordination analysis showed that fish assemblages were more predictable from environmental variables than were invertebrate assemblages. Variation in the fish assemblage was, primarily due to seasonal differences that were driven by changes in temperature. Invertebrates showed little seasonal variation, but a much higher degree of interannual variation than fish. Streamflow and dissolved oxygen were significant predictors of the invertebrate assemblage, indicating that irregular disturbances such as flooding events had a more important effect on the invertebrate assemblage than predictable seasonal cues such as temperature. Variation in fish and invertebrates was high both between and within the three estuaries, indicating that differences exist on multiple spatial scales. The influence of spatial and temporal factors on estuarine invertebrate and fish communities should be considered in planning monitoring programs for wetland mitigation or restoration sites.