Seasonal Abundance and Occurrence of Some Planktonic and Ichthyofaunal Communities in Cape Cod Bay: Evidence for Biogeographical Transition

  • Thomas Horst
  • Robert Lawton
  • Richard Toner
  • Michael Scherer
Part of the Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies book series (COASTAL, volume 11)


Planktonic and ichthyofaunal community structure in western Cape Cod Bay varied seasonally, reflecting cyclic changes in distribution and abundance as well as various life cycle and reproductive phases. Seasonal variation in water temperature was probably a major determinant in initiating and terminating many such changes.

Phytoplankton abundance peaked in March (major) and September (minor) while Zooplankton reached seasonal maxima in March or April (minor) and July or August (major). Zooplankton community growth appeared well coordinated with and dependent upon phytoplankton abundance with the Zooplankton growth generally following the spring bloom of phytoplankton. Failure of Zooplankton to respond to a phytoplankton increase later in the season was likely attributable to falling water temperatures.

Ichthyoplankton exhibited three seasonal abundance pulses in Cape Cod Bay: winter-early spring, late spring-summer, and late summer-autumn. A total larvae density peak in January was directly attributable to the cyclic abundance of sand lance larvae (Ammodytes sp.)

Finfish (young of the year, immature, and adult) exhibited greatest numerical abundance during the summer but greater species diversity in spring and fall. The spring and fall diversity peaks suggest that Cape Cod Bay functions as a transitional zone between predominant boreal fauna in the Bay (and to the north) and more temperate representatives to the South of Cape Cod. Spring and fall maxima may in part reflect movement of certain species into and through the Bay.


Seasonal Occurrence Sand Lance Trawl Catch Haul Seine Atlantic Herring 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Horst
  • Robert Lawton
  • Richard Toner
  • Michael Scherer

There are no affiliations available

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