, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 59-65

Fishes and decapod crustaceans of Cape Cod eelgrass meadows: Species composition, seasonal abundance patterns and comparison with unvegetated substrates

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Bimonthly trawl samples from eelgrass and nearby unvegetated areas on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, showed greater species richness in eelgrass meadows relative to unvegetated areas, and greater summer abundance in vegetation for decapod crustaceans and fishes. The composition of eelgrass-associated decapods and fishes was dominated by cold-water taxa and was strikingly different from that of the better studied eelgrass meadows of the mid-Atlantic coast. Four of the eight decapod species collected, including the second and third most abundant taxa, do not even appear in collections reported from Chesapeake Bay eelgrass meadows. Similarly, 10 of the 22 fish species taken, including the first and sixth most abundant species, are not reported from Chesapeake Bay eelgrass samples. Cape Cod eelgrass beds seem to play a nursery role for several commercially important fish species, although the nursery function is less obvious than in previously studied mid-Atlantic eelgrass meadows.