Habitat Use Patterns of Newly Settled Southern Flounder, Paralichthys lethostigma, in Aransas–Copano Bay, Texas
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- Nañez-James, S.E., Stunz, G.W. & Holt, S.A. Estuaries and Coasts (2009) 32: 350. doi:10.1007/s12237-008-9107-y
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Southern flounder Paralichthys lethostigma populations have been declining in Texas during the past 25 years. Despite their economic importance, little is known about their juvenile habitat requirements. We examined habitat use patterns of newly settled southern flounder in three zones at varying distances from the Aransas Pass inlet in Aransas–Copano Bay by measuring densities using a beam trawl in replicate estuarine habitat types in each zone. Highest abundance occurred near the inlet in vegetated sandy areas and was lowest in nonvegetated muddy bottom in regions furthest from the inlet. We also examined a 25-year fisheries data set from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to evaluate long-term spatiotemporal recruitment patterns in Aransas–Copano Bay. These data showed generally low recruitment during the past 25 years with highest abundance near the inlets. Our results support the importance of vegetated habitat types, especially those near tidal passes, and suggest a long-term decline in recruitment densities of southern flounder.