Coastal Monitoring through Partnerships

pp 239-255

Monitoring Nekton as a Bioindicator in Shallow Estuarine Habitats

  • Kenneth B. RaposaAffiliated withGraduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island
  • , Charles T. RomanAffiliated withUSGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, University of Rhode Island
  • , James F. HeltsheAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science and Statistics, University of Rhode Island

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Long-term monitoring of estuarine nekton has many practical and ecological benefits but efforts are hampered by a lack of standardized sampling procedures. This study provides a rationale for monitoring nekton in shallow (< 1 m), temperate, estuarine habitats and addresses some important issues that arise when developing monitoring protocols. Sampling in seagrass and salt marsh habitats is emphasized due to the susceptibility of each habitat to anthropogenic stress and to the abundant and rich nekton assemblages that each habitat supports. Extensive sampling with quantitative enclosure traps that estimate nekton density is suggested. These gears have a high capture efficiency in most habitats and are small enough (e.g., 1 m2) to permit sampling in specific microhabitats. Other aspects of nekton monitoring are discussed, including spatial and temporal sampling considerations, station selection, sample size estimation, and data collection and analysis. Developing and initiating long-term nekton monitoring programs will help evaluate natural and human-induced changes in estuarine nekton over time and advance our understanding of the interactions between nekton and the dynamic estuarine environment.


nekton Monitoring throw trap salt marsh eelgrass habitat value