, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 63–77 | Cite as

Fish and invertebrate assemblages in seagrass, mangrove, saltmarsh, and nonvegetated habitats

  • A. L. Bloomfield
  • B. M. GillandersEmail author


Many studies compare utilization of different marine habitats by fish and decapod crustaceans; few compare multiple vegetated habitats, especially using the same sampling equipment. Fish and invertebrates in seagrass, mangrove, saltmarsh, and nonvegetated habitats were sampled during May–August (Austral winter) and December–January (Austral summer) in the Barker Inlet-Port River estuary, South Australia. Sampling was undertaken using pop nets in all habitats and seine nets in seagrass and nonvegetated areas. A total of 7,895 fish and invertebrates spanning 3 classes, 9 orders, and at least 23 families were collected. Only one fish species,Atherinosoma microstoma, was collected in all 4 habitats, 11 species were found in 3 habitats (mangroves, seagrass, and nonvegetated), and 13 species were only caught in seagrass and nonvegetated habitats. Seagrass generally supported the highest numbers of fish and invertebrates and had the greatest species richness. Saltmarsh was at the other extreme with 29 individuals caught from two species. Mangroves and nonvegetated habitats generally had more fish, invertebrates, and species than saltmarsh, but less than seagrass. Analyses of abundances of individual species generally showed an interaction between habitat and month indicating that the same patterns were not found through time in all habitats. All habitats supported distinct assemlages although seagrass and nonvegetated assemblages were similar in some months. The generality of these patterns requires further investigation at other estuaries. Loss of vegetated habitats, particularly seagrass, could result in loss of species richness and abundance, especially for organisms that were not found in other habitats. Although low abundances were found in saltmarsh and mangroves, species may use these habitats for varying reasons, such as spawning, and such use should not be ignored.


Fish Assemblage Mangrove Forest Bare Sand Seagrass Meadow Oyster Reef 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Anderson, M. J. 2001. A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance.Austral Ecology 26:32–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angermeier, P. L. andM. R. Winston. 1997. Assessing conservation value of stream communities: A comparison of approaches based on centres of density and species richness.Freshwater Biology 37:699–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arrivillaga, A. andD. M. Baltz. 1999. Comparison of fishes and macroinvertebrates on seagrass and bare-sand sites on Guatemala's Atlantic coast.Bulletin of Marine Science 65:301–319.Google Scholar
  4. Bell, J. D. andD. A. Pollard. 1989. Ecology of fish assemblages and fisheries associated with seagrasses, p. 565–609.In S. A. Shepherd (ed.), Biology of Seagrasses. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  5. Bell, J. D., D. A. Pollard, J. J. Burchmore, B. C. Pease, andM. J. Middleton. 1984. Structure of a fish community in a temperate tidal mangrove creek in Botany Bay, New South Wales.Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 35:33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Butler, A. J., A. M. Depers, S. C. McKillup, andD. P. Thomas. 1975. The Conservation of Mangrove-swamps in South Australia. Nature Conservation Society of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.Google Scholar
  7. Castellanos, D. L. andL. P. Rozas. 2001. Nekton use of submerged aquatic vegetation, marsh, and shallow unvegetated bottom in the Atchafalaya River Delta, a Louisiana tidal freshwater ecosystem.Estuaries 24:184–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clarke, K. R. 1993. Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure.Australian Journal of Ecology 18:117–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clynick, B. andM. G. Chapman. 2002. Assemblages of small fish in patchy mangrove forests in Sydney Harbour.Marine and Freshwater Research 53:669–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Connolly, R. M. 1994a. A comparison of fish assemblages from seagrass and unvegetated areas of a southern Australian estuary.Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45:1033–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Connolly, R. M. 1994b. Comparison of fish catches from a buoyant pop net and a beach seine net in a shallow seagrass habitat.Marine Ecology Progress Series 109:305–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Connolly, R. M. 1994c. The role of seagrass as preferred habitat for juvenileSillaginodes punctata (Cuvier & Valenciennes) (Sillaginidae, Pisces): Habitat selection or feeding?Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 180:39–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Connolly, R. M. 1997. Differences in composition of small, motile invertebrate assemblages from seagrass and unvegetated habitats in a southern Australian estuary.Hydrobiologia 346:137–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Connolly, R. M. 1999. Saltmarsh as habitat for fish and nektonic crustaceans: Challenges in sampling designs and methods.Australian Journal of Ecology 24:422–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Connolly, R. M., A. Dalton, andD. A. Bass. 1997. Fish use of an inundated saltmarsh flat in a temperate Australian estuary.Australian Journal of Ecology 22:222–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Edyvane, K. 1995. Where Forests Meet the Sea…Mangroves in South Australia. South Australian Research and Development Institute, Adelaide, Australia.Google Scholar
  17. Ferrell, D. J. andJ. D. Bell. 1991. Differences among assemblages of fish associated withZostera capricorni and bare sand over a large spatial scale.Marine Ecology Progress Series 72:15–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fujita, S., I. Kinoshita, I. Takahashi, andK. Azuma. 2002. Species composition and seasonal occurrence of fish larvae and juveniles in the Shimanto estuary, Japan.Fisheries Science 68:364–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gommon, M. F., J. C. M. Glover, andR. H. Kuiter. 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast, State Print, Adelaide, Australia.Google Scholar
  20. Gray, C. A., R. C. Chick, andD. J. McElligott. 1998. Diel changes in assemblages of fishes associated with shallow seagrass and bare sand.Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 46:849–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gray, C. A., D. J. McElligott, andR. C. Chick. 1996. Intra-and inter-estuary differences in assemblages of fishes associated with shallow seagrass and bare sand.Marine and Freshwater Research 47:723–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hale, H. M. 1927a. The Crustaceans of South Australia, Part I. Government Printer, Adelaide, Australia.Google Scholar
  23. Hale, H. M. 1927b. The Crustaceans of South Australia, Part II. Government Printer, Adelaide, Australia.Google Scholar
  24. Halliday, I. A. andW. R. Young. 1996. Density, biomass and species composition of fish in a subtropicalRhizophora stylosa mangrove forest.Marine and Freshwater Research 47:609–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hanekom, N. andD. Baird. 1984. Fish community structures inZostera and non-Zostera regions of the Kromme estuary, St Francis Bay.South African Journal of Zoology 19:295–301.Google Scholar
  26. Heck, K. L., C. G. Hays, andR. J. Orth. 2003. A critical evaluation of the nursery role hypothesis for seagrass meadows.Marine Ecology Progress Series 253:123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heck, K. L. andT. A. Thoman. 1981. Experiments on predatorprey interactions in vegetated aquatic habitats.Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 53:125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heck, K. L. andT. A. Thoman. 1984. The nursery role of seagrass meadows in the upper and lower reaches of the Chesapeake Bay.Estuaries 7:70–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Houston Williams, A., L. D. Coen, andM. S. Stoelting. 1990. Seasonal abundance, distribution, and habitat selection of juvenileCallinectes sapidus (Rathbun) in the northern Gulf of Mexico.Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 137:165–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jackson, G. andG. K. Jones. 1999. Spatial and temporal variation in nearshore fish and macroinvertebrate assemblages from a temperate Australian estuary over a decade.Marine Ecology Progress Series 182:253–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jenkins, G. P., G. J. Edgar, H. M. A. May, and C. Shaw. 1993. Ecological basis for parallel declines in seagrass habitat and catches of commercial fish in Western Port Bay, Victoria, p. 124–136.In D. A. Hancock (ed.), Sustainable Fisheries through Sustaining Fish Habitat. Australian Society of Fish Biology Workshop, Victor Harbour, South Australia. AGPS.Google Scholar
  32. Jenkins, G. P., H. M. A. May, M. J. Wheatley, andM. G. Holloway. 1997. Comparison of fish assemblages associated with seagrass and adjacent unvegetated habitats of Port Phillip Bay and Corner Inlet, Victoria, Australia, with emphasis on commercial species.Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 44:569–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jenkins, G. P. andC. R. Sutherland. 1997. The influence of habitat structure on nearshore fish assemblages in a southern Australian embayment: Colonization and turnover rate of fishes associated with artificial macrophyte beds of varying physical structure.Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 218:103–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jenkins, G. P. andM. J. Wheatley. 1998. The influence of habitat structure on nearshore fish assemblages in a southern Australian embayment: comparisons of shallow seagrass, reefalgal and unvegetated sand habitats, with emphasis on their importance to recruitment.Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 221:147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jones, G. K., J. L. Baker, K. Edyvane, andG. J. Wright. 1996. Nearshore fish community of the Port River-Barker Inlet estuary, South Australia. I. Effect of thermal effluent on the fish community structure, and distribution and growth of economically important fish species.Marine and Freshwater Research 47:785–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jones, D. S. and G. J. Morgan. 1994. A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Reed, New South Wales, Australia.Google Scholar
  37. Kneib, R. T. andS. L. Wagner. 1994. Nekton use of vegetated marsh habitat at different stages of tidal inundation.Marine Ecology Progress Series 106:227–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Laegdsgaard, P. andC. Johnson. 1995. Mangrove habitats as nurseries: Unique assemblages of juvenile fish in subtropical mangroves in eastern Australia.Marine Ecology Progress Series 126:67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Levin, P., R. Petrick, andJ. Malone. 1997. Interactive effects of habitat selection, food supply and predation on recruitment of an estuarine fish.Oecologia 112:55–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lin, H. J. andK. T. Shao. 1999. Seasonal and diel changes in a subtropical mangrove fish assemblage.Bulletin of Marine Science 65:775–794.Google Scholar
  41. Loneragan, N. R., I. C. Potter, andR. C. J. Lenanton. 1989. Influence of site, season and year on contributions made by marine, estuarine, diadromous and freshwater species to the fish fauna of a temperate Australian estuary.Marine Biology 103:461–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Loneragan, N. R., I. C. Potter, R. C. J. Lenanton, andN. Caputi. 1986. Spatial and seasonal differences in the fish fauna in the shallows of a large Australian estuary.Marine Biology 92:575–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Minello, T. J. 1999. Nekton densities in shallow estuarine habitats of Texas and Louisiana and the identification of essential fish habitat.American Fisheries Society Symposium 22:43–75.Google Scholar
  44. Minello, T. J., K. W. Able, M. P. Weinstein, andC. G. Hays. 2003. Saltmarsh as nurseries for nekton: Testing hypotheses on density, growth, and survival through meta-analysis.Marine Ecology Progress Series 246:39–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Morton, R. M. 1990. Community structure, density and standing crop of fishes in a subtropical Australian mangrove area.Marine Biology 105:385–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nagelkerken, I., M. Dorenbosch, W. C. E. P. Verbeck, E. Cocheret De la Morinière, andG. van der Velde. 2000. Importance of shallow-water biotopes of a Caribbean bay for juvenile coral reef fishes: Patterns in biotope association, community structure and spatial distribution.Marine Ecology Progress Series 202:175–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Neira, F. J., A. G. Miskiewicz, andT. Trnski. 1998. Larvae of Temperate Australian Fishes. Impact Printing, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  48. Olney, J. E. andG. W. Boehlert. 1988. Nearshore ichthyoplankton associated with seagrass beds in the lower Chesapeake Bay.Marine Ecology Progress Series 45:33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Orth, R. J. andJ. R. Heck. 1980. Structural components of eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in the Lower Chesapeake Bay—Fishes.Estuaries 3:278–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Orth, R. J. andJ. van Montfrans. 1987. Utilization of a seagrass meadow and tidal marsh creek by blue crabs,Callinectes sapidus. I. Seasonal and annual variations in abundance with emphasis on post-settlement juveniles.Marine Ecology Progress Series 41:283–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Polovina, J. J., G. T. Mitchum, andG. T. Evans. 1995. Decadal and basin-scale variation in mixed layer depth and the impact on biological production in the Central and North Pacific, 1960–88.Deep-Sea Research 42:1701–1716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Port Corps, S. 2002. 2002. Tide Tables for South Australian Ports. South Australian Government. Adelaide, Australia.Google Scholar
  53. Potter, I. C. andS. de Lestang. 2000. Biology of the blue swimmer crabPortunus pelagicus in Leschenault estuary and Koombana Bay, south-western Australia.Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 83:443–458.Google Scholar
  54. Robertson, A. I. 1980. The structure and organization of an eelgrass fish fauna.Oecologia 47:76–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Robertson, A. I. andN. C. Duke 1987. Mangroves as nursery sites: Comparisons of the abundance and species composition of fish and crustaceans in mangroves and other nearshore habitats in tropical Australia.Marine Biology 96:193–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Robertson, A. I. andN. C. Duke. 1990. Mangrove fish-communities in tropical Queensland, Australia: Spatial and temporal patterns in densities, biomass and community structure.Marine Biology 104:369–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rooker, J. R. andG. D. Dennis. 1991. Diel, lunar and seasonal changes in a mangrove fish assemblage off southwestern Puerto Rico.Bulletin of Marine Science 49:684–698.Google Scholar
  58. Rozas, L. P. andT. J. Minello. 1997. Estimating densities of small fishes and decapod crustaceans in shallow estuarine habitats: A review of sampling design with focus on gear selection.Estuaries 20:199–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rozas, L. P. andT. J. Minello. 1998. Nekton use of saltmarsh, seagrass and nonvegetated habitats in a South Texas (USA) estuary.Bulletin of Marine Science 63:481–501.Google Scholar
  60. Shaw, M. andG. P. Jenkins. 1992. Spatial variation in feeding, prey distribution and food limitation of juvenile flounderRhombosolea tapirina Günther.Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 165:1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sheridan, P. S. 1992. Comparative habitat utilization by estuarine macrofauna within the mangrove ecosystem of Rookery Bay, Florida.Bulletin of Marine Science 50:21–29.Google Scholar
  62. Sheridan, P. andC. Hays. 2003. Are mangroves nursery habitat for transient fishes and decapods?Wetlands 23:449–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stunz, G. W. andT. J. Minello. 2001. Habitat-related predation on juvenile wild-caught and hatchery-reared red drumSciaenops ocellatus (Linnaeus).Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 260:13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Summerson, H. C. andC. H. Peterson. 1984. Role of predation in organizing benthic communities of a temperate-zone seagrass bed.Marine Ecology Progress Series 15:63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Talbot, C. W. andK. W. Able. 1984. Composition and distribution of larval fishes in New Jersey High Marshes.Estuaries 7:434–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Thayer, G. W., D. R. Colby, andW. F. Hettler. 1987. Utilization of the red mangrove prop root habitat by fishes in south Florida.Marine Ecology Progress Series 35:25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Thomas, I. M., R. C. Ainslie, D. A. Johnson, E. W. Offler, andP. A. Zed. 1986. The effects of cooling water discharge on the intertidal fauna in the Port River estuary, South Australia.Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 110:159–172.Google Scholar
  68. Thomas, J. L., R. J. Zimmerman, andT. J. Minello. 1990. Abundance patterns of juvenile blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) in nursery habitats of two Texas bays.Bulletin of Marine Science 46:115–125.Google Scholar
  69. Tolan, J. M., S. A. Holt, andC. P. Onuf. 1997. Distribution and community structure of ichthyoplankton in Laguna Madre seagrass meadows: Potential impact of seagrass species change.Estuaries 20:450–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Underwood, A. J. 1997. Experiments in Ecology: Their Logical Design and Interpretation Using Analysis of Variance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  71. Webb, S. R. andR. T. Kneib. 2002. Abundance and distribution of juvenile white shrimpLitopenaeus setiferus within a tidal marsh landscape.Marine Ecology Progress Series 232:213–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Weinstein, M. P. andH. A. Brooks. 1983. Comparative ecology of nekton residing in a tidal creek and adjacent seagrass meadow: Community composition and structure.Marine Ecology Progress Series 12:5–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wilson, K. A., K. W. Able, andK. L. Heck 1990. Habitat use by juvenile blue crabs: A comparison among habitats in southern New Jersey.Bulletin of Marine Science 46:105–114.Google Scholar
  74. Zimmerman, R. J. andT. J. Minello. 1984. Densities ofPenaeus aztecus, Penaeus setiferus, and other natant macrofauna in a Texas saltmarsh.Estuaries 7:421–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zimmerman, R. J., T. J. Minello, andG. Zamora. 1984. Selection of vegetated habitat by brown shrimp,Penaeus aztecus, in a Galveston Bay saltmarsh.Fishery Bulletin 82:325–336.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southern Seas Ecology LaboratoriesSchool of Earth and Environmntal Sciences, University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations