, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 304–312 | Cite as

Expression of the Estuarine species minimum in littoral fish assemblages of the Lower Chesapeake Bay Tributaries

  • C. Michael Wagner


Species richness declines to a minimum (artenminimum) in the oligohaline reach of estuaries and other large bodies of brackish water. To date, observations of this feature in temperate estuaries have been largely restricted to benthic macroinvertebrates. Five years of seine data collected during the summers of 1990–1995 in the major tidal tributaries to the lower Chesapeake Bay were examined to see if this feature arose in estuarine fish assemblages. Estimates of numerical species richness (alpha diversity) and rates of species turnover between sites (beta diversity) were generated via rarefaction and detrended correspondence analysis. Two spatial attributes of the distribution of littoral fish species along salinity gradients in the tributaries of the lower Chesapeake Bay were revealed: (1) a species richness depression in salinities of 8–10% and (2) a peak in the rate of species turnover associated with the tidal freshwater interface (salinities of 0–2%). Expression of the minimum is influenced by the physical length of the salinity gradient and the interaction between a species’ salinity preferences and tendency to make long excursions from favorable habitats.


Fish Assemblage Salinity Gradient Beta Diversity Tidal Freshwater Species Turnover 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Michael Wagner
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Marine ScienceCollege of William and MaryGloucester Point

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