Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 53–65 | Cite as

Utilization by fishes of shallow, seagrass-covered banks in Florida Bay: 1. Species composition and spatial heterogeneity

  • Susan M. Sogard
  • George V. N. Powell
  • Jeff G. Holmquist


Species composition and relative capture rates of water column fishes occurring on the shallow (<1 m), seagrass-covered mudbanks of Florida Bay were assessed using small-mesh gillnets. The fauna was largely temperate, with few tropical representatives, and was similar to the fish community in adjacent basins. There was a high variability in the catch across the Bay, reflecting heterogeneity in both the physical environment and various aspects of the seagrass canopy. The Gulf site, in the northwestern section of the Bay, had the highest species richness and highest capture rates of individual species, relative to other sites. Higher densities of potential prey, greater available foraging area, and organically rich, fine sediments are probably influential in the greater fish utilization of this bank. The greater exchange of western Florida Bay with open Atlantic or Gulf waters is proposed as a secondary factor influencing species richness; the probability of non-resident species occasionally appearing on western banks is greater than in isolated interior sections of the Bay.

Key words

Community structure Gillnets Habitat quality Estuaries 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan M. Sogard
    • 1
  • George V. N. Powell
    • 1
  • Jeff G. Holmquist
    • 1
  1. 1.National Audubon Society Research DepartmentTavernierU.S.A.

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