, Volume 569, Issue 1, pp 387–399 | Cite as

Spatial patterns of fish communities along two estuarine gradients in southern Florida

  • David P. J. Green
  • Joel C. Trexler
  • Jerome J. Lorenz
  • Carole C. McIvor
  • Tom Philippi


In tropical and subtropical estuaries, gradients of primary productivity and salinity are generally invoked to explain patterns in community structure and standing crops of fishes. We documented spatial and temporal patterns in fish community structure and standing crops along salinity and nutrient gradients in two subtropical drainages of Everglades National Park, USA. The Shark River drains into the Gulf of Mexico and experiences diurnal tides carrying relatively nutrient enriched waters, while Taylor River is more hydrologically isolated by the oligohaline Florida Bay and experiences no discernable lunar tides. We hypothesized that the more nutrient enriched system would support higher standing crops of fishes in its mangrove zone. We collected 50 species of fish from January 2000 to April 2004 at six sampling sites spanning fresh to brackish salinities in both the Shark and Taylor River drainages. Contrary to expectations, we observed lower standing crops and density of fishes in the more nutrient rich tidal mangrove forest of the Shark River than in the less nutrient rich mangrove habitats bordering the Taylor River. Tidal mangrove habitats in the Shark River were dominated by salt-tolerant fish and displayed lower species richness than mangrove communities in the Taylor River, which included more freshwater taxa and yielded relatively higher richness. These differences were maintained even after controlling for salinity at the time of sampling. Small-scale topographic relief differs between these two systems, possibly created by tidal action in the Shark River. We propose that this difference in topography limits movement of fishes from upstream marshes into the fringing mangrove forest in the Shark River system, but not the Taylor River system. Understanding the influence of habitat structure, including connectivity, on aquatic communities is important to anticipate effects of construction and operational alternatives associated with restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.


community structure freshwater marshes habitat connectance landscape ecology mangroves nutrient gradients salinity gradients 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Amoros, C., Bornette, G. 2002Connectivity and biocomplexity in waterbodies of riverine floodplainsFreshwater Biology47761776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Childers, D. L., J. N. Boyer, S. E. Davis, C. J. Madden, D. T. Rudnick & F. H. Sklar, 2006. Relating precipitation and water management to nutrient concentrations in the oligotrophic “upside-down” estuaries of the Florida Everglades. Limnology and Oceanography 51: 602–616Google Scholar
  3. Clarke, K. R. 1993Non-parametric multivariate analyses of change in community structureAustralian Journal of Ecology18117143Google Scholar
  4. Clarke, K. R., Warwick, R. M. 1994Change in Marine Communities: an Approach to Statistical Analysis and InterpretationNatural Environmental Research Council, Plymouth Marine LaboratoryUKGoogle Scholar
  5. Dame, R. 1986The outwelling hypothesis and North Inlet, South-CarolinaMarine Ecology Progress Series33217214Google Scholar
  6. Dame, R. F., Allen, D. M. 1996Between estuaries and the seaJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology200169185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Day, J. W., Hall, C. A. S., Kemp, W. M., Yanez-Arancibia, A. 1989Estuarine EcologyJohn Wiley & SonsNYGoogle Scholar
  8. Dean, A. F., Bollens, S. M., Simenstad, C., Cordell, J. 2005Marshes as sources or sinks of an estuarine mysid: demographic patterns and tidal flux of Neomysis kadiakensis at China Camp marsh, San Francisco estuaryEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science63111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Deegan, L. A. 1993Nutrient and energy-transport between estuaries and coastal marine ecosystems by fish migrationCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences507479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Evans, D. H. 1993Osmotic and ionic regulationEvans, D.H. eds. The Physiology of FishesCRC PressBoca Raton, FL315341Google Scholar
  11. He, F. -L., Hubbell, S. P. 2003Percolation theory for the distribution and abundance of speciesPhysical Review Letters91198103PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Holmquist, J. G., Powell, G. V. N., Sogard, S. M. 1989Sediment, water level and water temperature characteristics of Florida Bay’s grass-covered mud banksBulletin of Marine Science44348364Google Scholar
  13. Hupp, C. R. 2000Hydrology, geomorphology and vegetation of Coastal Plain rivers in the south-eastern USAHydrological Processes1429913010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hurst, T. P., Conover, D. O. 2002Effects of temperature and salinity on survival of young-of-the-year Hudson River striped bass (Morone saxatilis): implications for optimal overwintering habitatsCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences59787795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jordan, F., Coyne, S., Trexler, J. C. 1997Sampling fishes in vegetated habitats: effects of habitat structure on sampling characteristics of the 1  m2 throw trapTranscripts of the American Fisheries Society12610121020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kruskal, J. B., Wish, M. 1978Multidimensional Scaling. Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, 07–0111Sage PublicationsBeverly HillsGoogle Scholar
  17. Layman, C. A., Arrington, D. A., Silliman, B. R., Langerhans, R. B. 2004Degree of fragmentation affects assemblage structure in Andros Island (Bahamas) estuariesCaribbean Journal of Science40232244Google Scholar
  18. Levesque, V. A., 2004. Water flow and nutrient flux from five estuarine rivers along the southwest coast of the Everglades National Park, Florida, 1997–2001. US Geological Survey, Scientific Investigations Report 2004–5142. Google Scholar
  19. Ley, J. A., McIvor, C. C. 2002Linkages between estuarine and reef fish assemblages: enhancement by the presence of well-developed mangrove shorelinesPorter, J. W.Porter, K.G. eds. The Everglades, Florida Bay and Coral Reefs of the Florida Keys: an Ecosystem SourcebookCRC PressBoca Raton, FL539562Google Scholar
  20. Light, S. S., Dineen, J. W. 1994Water control in the Everglades: a historical perspectiveDavis, S. M.Ogden, J. C. eds. Everglades: the Ecosystem and its RestorationSt Lucie PressDelray Beach, FL4784Google Scholar
  21. Lorenz, J. J. 1999The response of fishes to physiochemical changes in the mangroves of northeast Florida BayEstuaries22500517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lorenz, J. J., McIvor, C. C., Powell, G. V. N., Frederick, P. C. 1997A drop net and removable walkway for sampling fishes over wetland surfacesWetlands17346359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCune, B., Grace, J. B. 2002Analysis of Ecological CommunitiesMjM SoftwareGleneden Beach, ORGoogle Scholar
  24. McIvor, C. C., Rozas, L. P. 1996Utilization of intertidal saltmarsh by fishes in the southeastern United States: a reviewNordstrom, K. F.Roman, C. T. eds. Estuarine Shores: Evolution, Environments and Human AlterationsJohn Wiley & SonsNY311334Google Scholar
  25. Nixon, S. W. 1980Between coastal marshes and coastal waters – a review of twenty years of speculation and research on the role of salt marshes in estuarine productivityHamilton, P.MacDonald, K. B. eds. Estuarine and Wetland ProcessesPlenum PressNY437525Google Scholar
  26. Noe, G. B., Hupp, C. R. 2005Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus accumulation in floodplains of Atlantic Coastal Plain rivers, USAEcological Applications1511781190Google Scholar
  27. Norcross, B. L., Shaw, R. F. 1984Oceanic and estuarine transport of fish eggs and larvae: a reviewTransactions of the American Fisheries Society115155165Google Scholar
  28. Odum, E. P. 1980The status of three ecosystem level hypotheses regarding salt marshes: tidal subsidy, outwelling and the detritus based food chainKennedy, V. S. eds. Estuarine PerspectivesAcademic PressNY485496Google Scholar
  29. Peterson, M. S. 2003A conceptual view of environment-habitat-production linkages in tidal river estuariesReviews in Fisheries Science11291313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Peterson, M. S., Comyns, B. H., Rakocinski, C. F., Fulling, G. L. 2004Defining the fundamental physiological niche of young estuarine fishes and its relationship to understanding distribution, vital metrics, and optimal nursery conditionsEnvironmental Biology of Fishes71143149Google Scholar
  31. Philippi, T. E., Dixon, P. M., Taylor, B. E. 1998Detecting trends in species compositionEcological Applications8300308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Poff, N. L. 1997Landscape filters and species traits: towards mechanistic understanding and prediction in stream ecologyJournal of the North American Benthological Society16391409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pringle, C. M. 2001Hydrologic connectivity and the management of biological reserves: a global perspectiveEcological Applications11981998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rozas, L. P. 1992Bottomless lift net for quantitatively sampling nekton on intertidal marshesMarine Ecology Progress Series89287292Google Scholar
  35. Rozas, L. P., Minello, T. J. 1997Estimating densities of small fishes and decapod crustaceans in shallow estuarine habitats: a review of sampling design with focus on gear selectionEstuaries20199213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rozas, L. P., Odum, W. E. 1987Use of tidal freshwater marshes by fishes and macrofaunal crustaceans along a marsh stream-order gradientEstuaries103643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rudnick, D. T., Chen, Z., Childers, D. L., Boyer, J. N., Fontaine, T. D. 1999Phosphorus and nitrogen inputs to Florida Bay: the importance of the Everglades watershedEstuaries22398416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Semlitsch, R. D. 2000Principles for management of aquatic-breeding amphibiansJournal of Wildlife Management64615631Google Scholar
  39. Sklar, F. H., Browder, J. A. 1998Coastal environmental impacts brought about by alterations to freshwater flow in the Gulf of MexicoEnvironmental Management22547562PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stancyk, S. E. 1986Transport of non-decapod invertebrate larvae in estuaries – an overviewBulletin of Marine Science39257269Google Scholar
  41. Tockner, K., Schiemer, F., Ward, J. V. 1998Conservation by restoration: the management concept for a river-floodplain system on the Danube River in AustriaAquatic Conservation87186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Turner, A. M., Trexler, J. C., Jordan, C. F., Slack, S. J., Geddes,  P., Chick, J. H., Loftus, W. F. 1999Targeting ecosystem features for conservation: standing crops in the Florida EvergladesConservation Biology13898911CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ward, J. V., Tockner, K., Schiemer, F. 1999Biodiversity of floodplain river ecosystems: ecotones and connectivityRegulated Rivers15125139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wiens, J. A. 2002Riverine landscapes: taking landscape ecology into the waterFreshwater Biology47501515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wolski, L. F., Trexler, J. C., Nelson, E. B., Philippi, T., Perry, S. A. 2004Assessing visitor impacts from long-term sampling of wetland communities in the EvergladesFreshwater Biology4913811390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zhang, K., Chen, S. C., Whitman, D., Shyu, M. L., Yan, J. H., Zhang, C. C. 2003A progressive morphological filter for removing nonground measurements from airborne LIDAR data, IEEETransactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing41872882CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David P. J. Green
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joel C. Trexler
    • 1
  • Jerome J. Lorenz
    • 2
  • Carole C. McIvor
    • 3
  • Tom Philippi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.National Audubon Society, Tavernier Science CenterTavernierUSA
  3. 3.US Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science CenterSt PetersburgUSA

Personalised recommendations