Biodiversity of forage fishes in the Lower Laguna Madre, southernmost Texas
Keywords:Fishing gear, estuaries, coastal fishes, baitfish, nursery habitat
Coastal estuarine ecosystems serve as nursery habitats for many commercially and recreationally important fishes. Biodiversity is a structural indicator and has been used as a metric for conservation and management. In the hypersaline Lower Laguna Madre of Texas, a variety of organisms makes their living in and around the dominant seagrass vegetation. This study provides a general assessment of forage fishes biodiversity collected seasonally with bag seines in two sites: Holly Beach (HB) and South Bay (SB) within the most southern Texas bay system as part of a broader study on fish biology. A total of 15,880 fishes representing 32 species were collected during four quarterly samplings through a year (11,795 from HB and 4,085 from SB). Both sites are interconnected as no fishes similarities difference were found, nonetheless, the sites’ variable characteristics (i.e. basin area, seagrasses coverage, connection to the Gulf of Mexico) resulted in significant greater species richness, relative abundances, and diversity in HB than SB for most of the year, suggesting differences in habitat quality or at the very least variation in the availability of habitat types, which are known to contribute to differences in fish diversity attributes.
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Copyright (c) 2023 David Camarillo Jr., Elizabeth Mogus Garcia, Carlos E. Cintra-Buenrostro
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