Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1769–1784 | Cite as

Reopening of a Remote Tidal Inlet Increases Recruitment of Estuarine-Dependent Nekton

  • Quentin A. Hall
  • Megan M. Reese Robillard
  • Jason A. Williams
  • Matthew J. Ajemian
  • Gregory W. Stunz
Article

Abstract

Cedar Bayou, a natural tidal inlet, was recently dredged to allow for direct water exchange between the Gulf of Mexico and Mesquite Bay, TX, USA. We quantified changes in densities of juvenile nekton (fish, shrimps, and crabs) and community structure in Mesquite Bay after Cedar Bayou was reopened by collecting samples at both control and impact sites using an epibenthic sled 1 year before (October 2013–April 2014) and after (October 2014–April 2015) opening. Significantly higher densities of total nekton were observed at the impact sites after opening using a before-after control-impact design. Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), post-larval penaeid shrimps (Farfantepenaeus aztecus, F. duorarum, and Litopenaeus setiferus), and Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus) were significantly more abundant at impact sites after Cedar Bayou was opened. Multivariate analysis showed a significant change in impact site communities after opening and was driven by an increased presence of estuarine-dependent species. Overall, this study demonstrates that opening tidal inlets, such as Cedar Bayou, and reconnecting Mesquite Bay to the Gulf of Mexico increased the presence of numerous estuarine-dependent species, many of which were not present or occurred at very low densities prior to reopening. Thus, reestablishing the historical connectivity between a productive estuary and the open Gulf of Mexico via Cedar Bayou should reinstitute natural nekton recruitment processes important to the Aransas, Mesquite, and San Antonio Bay regions.

Keywords

Cedar Bayou Tidal inlet Nekton recruitment Nursery habitat Estuarine-dependent 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Aransas County, Texas, and the Coastal Conservation Association Texas, for funding this research. We would also like to thank the staff at the Harte Research Institute, the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, for their help in completing this study. A special thanks to all of those who helped process and analyze the samples collected during this study, especially Dr. Judd Curtis, Alex Tompkins, Chas Downey, Ashley Ferguson, David Norris, Meghan Hargis, Joy Brown, Patrick McKinney, and Zach Crain.

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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Quentin A. Hall
    • 1
  • Megan M. Reese Robillard
    • 1
  • Jason A. Williams
    • 1
  • Matthew J. Ajemian
    • 1
  • Gregory W. Stunz
    • 1
  1. 1.Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico StudiesTexas A&M University-Corpus ChristiCorpus ChristiUSA

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