, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 731-744

The distribution of shallow water juvenile fishes in an urban estuary: The effects of manmade structures in the lower Hudson River

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine what effect, if any, large pile-supported platforms (piers) have on the habitat distribution and abundance of juvenile fishes. Trapping techniques were used in 1993 and 1994 under piers, in pile fields, and in open-water habitat types in shallow areas (<5 m) in the lower Hudson River estuary (40°44′N, 70°01′W). Nearly 1500 fishes, mostly juveniles, representing 24 species were collected in 1865 trap-days from May through October in the 2-yr study. The presence of relatively large numbers of young-of-the-year (YOY) fish during both years lends support to the idea that shallow areas in the lower Hudson River estuary currently function as nursery habitats for a variety of fishes. Two seasonal assemblages were apparent, but their composition varied somewhat between years.Microgadus tomcod andPseudopleuronectes americanus YOY dominated an early summer assemblage (May–July) while large numbers of YOYMorone saxatilis were collected as part of a late summer assemblage (August–September). The effects of habitat type on fish assemblage structure were significant during both years. Fish abundance and species richness were typically low under piers; YOY fishes were rare andAnguilla rostrata accounted for a large proportion of the total catch. In contrast, YOY fishes dominated collections at pile field and open-water stations, where abundance and species richness were high. These results indicate that habitat quality under the platforms of large piers (>20,000 m2) is probably poor for YOY fishes when compared with nearby pile field and open-water habitat types.