Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 129–147 | Cite as

Response of Tidal Creek Fish Communities to Dredging and Coastal Development Pressures in a Shallow-Water Estuary

  • Donna Marie BilkovicEmail author


To investigate the effects of dredging and associated development pressures (i.e., shoreline armoring, developed land use) on fish, three sets of paired dredged and undredged tidal creeks were surveyed within Lynnhaven River, Virginia. Fish species diversity, community abundance, biomass, and size structure were compared among creeks and related to watershed, shoreline, and physicochemical characteristics. Mean fish community characteristics (e.g., abundance) were similar among creeks; however, species-specific analysis revealed subtle differences. Species biomass differed between dredged and undredged creeks, though species abundance was similar. Turbidity highly influenced differences in species abundance among creeks, while organic matter, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and shoreline hardening may be influencing biomass patterns. The most recently dredged creek appeared to provide less suitable nursery habitat for some species than historically dredged creeks, suggesting initial adverse effects with eventual recovery. Protective measures, such as preservation of marshes, dredge depth, and time-of-year restrictions, may be moderating development and dredging pressures.


Tidal creeks Chesapeake Bay Dredging Fish community Development Shallow-water habitats Fringe marsh 



Walter Priest, Randy Owen, and David O’Brien provided invaluable assistance in the vetting of sites and with field collections. I am grateful to the staff of the Center for Coastal Resources Management for logistical field support and technical expertise including David Stanhope, Kory Angstadt, Sharon Killeen, Molly Roggero, Marcia Berman, Dave Weiss, Dan Schatt, and Karinna Nunez. The manuscript was greatly improved by comments from Molly Roggero, Randy Owen, and three anonymous reviewers. Funding was provided by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Contract #: W91236-06-C-0065. This is contribution number 3110 from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Institute of Marine ScienceCollege of William and MaryGloucester PointUSA

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