Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1143–1157 | Cite as

Recruitment of Estuarine-Dependent Nekton Through a New Tidal Inlet: the Opening of Packery Channel in Corpus Christi, TX, USA

  • Megan M. Reese
  • Gregory W. StunzEmail author
  • Amanda M. Bushon


The US Army Corps of Engineers recently dredged and permanently reopened Packery Channel, historically a natural tidal inlet, to allow water exchange between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre, TX, USA. The main objective of this study was to characterize estuarine-dependent recruitment and community structure in seagrass habitats adjacent to Packery Channel pre- and post-channel opening. We sampled fish and crustacean abundance using an epibenthic sled in Halodule wrightii seagrass meadows in both control and impact locations over 2 years, 1 year before the opening of Packery Channel (October 2004–May 2005) and 1 year after (July 2005–April 2006). Using the before–after control–impact design, we found significantly fewer nekton post-channel opening. However, we found significantly higher mean densities of newly settled estuarine-dependent species (Sciaenops ocellatus, Micropogonias undulatus, Lagodon rhomboides, Callinectes sapidus, and penaeid shrimp) post-opening. Multivariate analyses showed significant community assemblage changes post-opening with increased contribution of estuarine-dependent species post-opening. Our results show that estuarine-dependent nekton are using Packery Channel as a means of ingress into areas of the upper Laguna Madre’s seagrass meadows that were previously inaccessible, which may lead to higher fisheries productivity for some of these economically and ecologically important fishery species.


Tidal inlet Packery Channel Nekton recruitment Nursery habitat Estuarine-dependent nekton 



We would like to thank the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Texas A and M University - Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC), NOAA Sea Grant #NA06OAR4170076, and the Coastal Conservation Association for funding this research. We thank Dr. Paul Montagna, Terry Palmer, Dr. Kim Withers, and John Froeschke for their assistance with the analysis. We also thank Deidre Williams and Lanmon Aerial Photography, Inc. for providing aerial photography. This project would not have been possible without the members of the Fisheries Ecology Lab at TAMU-CC and their numerous hours of field and laboratory help. We particularly would like to thank Sarah Bayer, Heather Barackman, Annette Cardona, Rafael Calderon, Alyssa Dailey, Ryan Fikes, Todd Neahr, and Brooke Stanford.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan M. Reese
    • 1
  • Gregory W. Stunz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda M. Bushon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, Texas A and M University-Corpus ChristiHarte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico StudiesCorpus ChristiUSA
  2. 2.Division of Inland FisheriesNorth Carolina Wildlife Resources CommissionWaynesvilleUSA

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