Effect of sediment, salinity, and velocity on the behavior of juvenile winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus)

Abstract

Winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) is a benthic flatfish that is economically important for recreational and commercial fishing in North America. In the last twenty years, the species has undergone a drastic decline, mainly due to anthropic influence. The goal of this study was to gain knowledge on habitat preferences and behavior of juvenile winter flounder to improve the management of natural stocks and optimize release sites of juveniles produced for stock enhancement. Three abiotic factors (sediment, current, and salinity) potentially influencing the distribution of flatfish species were tested in a recircurlating flume with juvenile winter flounder. Time budgets of observed behaviors including swimming, orientation, and burying capacity were analyzed. Sediment texture was the only factor that significantly influenced the burying behavior of winter flounder juveniles; shear velocity, salinity, and sediment had no effect on the orientation of juveniles.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many individuals who provided technical and scientific assistance, especially Renée Gagné and Nathalie Morin. We are thankful to Dr. Elizabeth Fairchild and one anonymous referee for their constructive comments on a previous version of this manuscript. This research was supported by an NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) grant (Discovery Grant RGPIN-2014-06631) to CA, an FRQNT grant, Fonds de recherche du Quebec – Nature et Technologies (Équipe PR 190063) to RT, CA, Gesche Winkler, and FO as well as by the Ressources Aquatiques Québec research network (RAQ). All experiments were conducted at the Station aquicole de Pointe-au-Père (ISMER/UQAR, 48°27′N; 68°32′W, QC, Canada), and all fish manipulations were done according to the Canadian Council of Animal Protection recommendations and protocols approved by the University’s Animal Care Committee.

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Correspondence to Céline Audet.

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Provencher, T., Olivier, F., Tremblay, R. et al. Effect of sediment, salinity, and velocity on the behavior of juvenile winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus). Environ Biol Fish 101, 1483–1492 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-018-0793-4

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Keywords

  • Winter flounder
  • Sediment
  • Salinity
  • Current
  • Swimming behavior