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Seasonal changes in community composition and trophic structure of fish populations of five salt marshes along the Essex coastline, United Kingdom

Green, BC and Smith, DJ and Earley, SE and Hepburn, LJ and Underwood, GJC (2009) 'Seasonal changes in community composition and trophic structure of fish populations of five salt marshes along the Essex coastline, United Kingdom.' Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 85 (2). 247 - 256. ISSN 0272-7714

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Abstract

European intertidal salt marshes are important nursery sites for juvenile fish and crustaceans. Due to the increasing threat of habitat loss, the seasonal changes of salt marsh fish communities need to be understood in order to appreciate the ecological and economic importance of the saltmarsh habitat. This study was the first in Great Britain to investigate the seasonal changes of salt marsh fish communities and the variation in community structure between closely located marsh habitats. Between February 2007 and March 2008, five marshes on three estuaries of the Essex coastline were sampled using flume nets to block off intertidal creeks at high tide. Fourteen fish species were caught. The community overall was dominated by three species that made up 91.6% of the total catch: the common goby Pomatoschistus microps (46.2% of the total catch), juvenile herring Clupea harengus (24.3%), and juvenile and larval sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax (21.2%). Cluster analysis demonstrated clear seasonal patterns, with some community structures unique to specific marshes or estuaries. The marsh fish community shifts from a highly diverse community during spring, to a community dominated by D. labrax and P. microps in autumn, and low diversity during winter months. Gravimetric stomach content analysis of fish community identified three main trophic guilds; macroinvertivores, planktivores and omnivores. The macroinvertivore feeding guild contained D. labrax and P. microps, the two most frequently occurring species. This investigation demonstrates the importance of British salt marshes as nursery habitats for commercial fish species. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2011 15:23
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2019 18:17
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/837

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