Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 572–586 | Cite as

Use of Shallow Lagoon Habitats by Nekton of the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico

  • Lawrence P. Rozas
  • Thomas J. Minello
  • Darrin D. Dantin


We compared nekton use of prominent habitat types within a lagoonal system of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (GoM). These habitat types were defined by combinations of structure (cover type) and location (distance from shore) as: Spartina edge (≤1 m from shore), Spartina (3 m from shore); Juncus edge (≤1 m from shore); seagrass located 3, 5, and 20 m from shore; and shallow non-vegetated bottom at various distances from shore. Although seagrass and Spartina edge sites differed little in environmental characteristics, the density and biomass of most abundant taxa, including pink shrimp (Farfantepenaeus duorarum), were higher in seagrass. Most species within seagrass and Spartina did not differ in abundance or biomass with distance from shore. Our study revealed a shift in peak habitat use in the northeastern GoM to seagrass beds from the pattern observed to the west where nekton is concentrated within shoreline emergent vegetation.


Seagrass Salt marsh Habitat comparison Pink shrimp Farfantepenaeus duorarum Florida lagoon 



This research was conducted through the NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center by personnel from the Fishery Ecology Branch (FEB) located at the Galveston Laboratory and the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. The assistance of everyone in the FEB was essential for the successful completion of this project. In particular, we thank Jim Ditty, Jennifer Doerr, Shawn Hillen, Juan Salas, Katie Turner, and Elizabeth Wilson for help in collecting and processing samples and Philip Caldwell for producing Fig. 1. We acknowledge John A. Dittmar III (EPA Gulf Ecology Division) for computing the aerial coverage of habitat types. We also thank Kevin Caillouet (Tulane University), Heather Pace Dyer (Nicholls State University), Janet A. Nestlerode (EPA Gulf Ecology Division), and Dominic Guadagnoli (Georgia Department of Natural Resources) for assisting in collecting nekton samples. Alejandro E. Almario with the EPA Gulf Ecology Division assisted by providing tidal data. We thank Jack Mobley and Mike Mitsud (Natural Resources Department, Tyndall Air Force Base) for providing logistical support at the study site. We acknowledge the EPA Gulf Ecology Division and the NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center for funding this research project. Two anonymous reviewers and the editor suggested changes that improved the original manuscript. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NOAA Fisheries Service.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence P. Rozas
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Minello
    • 2
  • Darrin D. Dantin
    • 3
  1. 1.NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service/SEFSCEstuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries CenterLafayetteUSA
  2. 2.NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service/SEFSCGalveston LaboratoryGalvestonUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and DevelopmentNational Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory Gulf Ecology DivisionGulf BreezeUSA

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