Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 281–325 | Cite as

Fish communities of estuarine salt marshes of eastern North America, and comparisons with temperate estuaries of other continents

  • Frank G. Nordlie


Twenty eastern North American estuarine/saltmarsh locations, for which publishedinventories of inhabiting fishes wereavailable, were selected for study. Thegeographic range of systems extended from southTexas on the west; North River, FL. on thesouth; to Prince Edward Island, Canada on theeast; and James and Hudson Bays, Canada at thenorth. A total of 237(±) species offishes were associated with these systems. Lifehistory groupings included: permanent residents(9.3%); marine nursery species (17.7%);diadromous fishes (5.5%); marine transients(52.3%); and freshwater transients (15.2%).The most widely distributed species wereprimarily permanent residents and marinenursery species. The fraction of residentspecies did not vary significantly over thelatitudinal range, but the fraction of marinemigratory (MN + MT) species decreased withlatitude. An increasing fraction of diadromous(anadromous) species may compensate for thedecreasing fraction of marine migratoryspecies. Permanent residents, marine nurseryspecies, and marine transients all showedextended periods of spawning. Permanentresident species showed the widest ranges ofambient salinity tolerances or of ambientsalinity ranges of occupied habitats, withmarine nursery species second. Patterns withrespect to ambient temperature tolerances wereassociated with geographic ranges rather thanlife history groups. A general profile wasproduced of characteristics of species thatlive as permanent residents in salt marshestuaries of eastern North America.

Species and family relationships of fishes froma group of 17 and another of 25 estuarieslocated along the west coast of Europe werecompared with the eastern North American group.European estuaries showed higher speciesrichness per system than did those of easternNorth America. Family representations ofeastern North American and western Europeanestuaries were compared with a series ofestuaries located in southwestern Australia andSouth Africa. This showed significant overlapin family representation, with two speciesbeing common among the four continents.

Estuarine fishes life history characteristics salinity and temperature tolerances nonindigenous species 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank G. Nordlie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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