Distributional responses to small-scale habitat variability by early juvenile silver hake, Merluccius bilinearis
- Cite this article as:
- Auster, P.J., Malatesta, R.J. & Donaldson, C.L.S. Environmental Biology of Fishes (1997) 50: 195. doi:10.1023/A:1007305628035
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Early juvenile (0-year) silver hake, Merluccius bilinearis, occurred at higher densities on bottoms with greater amphipod tube cover at a 55 m deep site in the Middle Atlantic Bight. The size range of individuals at this site was 1.5–5 cm total length. Additional observations at other sites showed that 0-year silver hake only occurred on silt-sand bottom with amphipod tubes at bottom water temperatures of 8.7–11.4 °C. This distribution pattern could be the result of either selective settlement into appropriate habitats or differential predation with higher survivorship in more complex habitats. We posit that 0-year silver hake occur in patches of dense amphipod tube cover to avoid visual predators and co-occur with preferred prey (i.e., amphipods and shrimps).