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Estuaries Vol. 15, No. 2, p. 171-185 June 1992

Fauna of Polyhaline Subtidal Marsh Creeks in Southern New Jersey: Composition, Abundance and Biomass



Marine Field Station

Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences

Rutgers University

Tuckerton, New Jersey 08087

ABSTRACT: Three polyhaine subtidal marsh creeks in southern New Jersey were sampled with weirs and seines to determine seasonal patterns of utilization by fishes and macroinvertebrates. Sixty-four species of fish, 13 invertebrates, and the diamondback terrapin were collected in 69weir and 57 seine samples from April to November 1988 and April to October 1989.  Average abundance, biomass, and faunal composition were strongly seasonal with greatest abundances during spring and summer, and peaks in May and August.  Sixteen species were represented by all life-history stages, including the five most important species by combined ranks of percent frequency, mean abundance, and mean biomass.  These five species were important during spring, summer, and fall and included the fishes Menidia menidia and Fundulus heteroctitus, the shrimps Palaemonetes vulgaris and Crangon septemspinosa, and the crab Callinectes sapidus.  In addition, there were distinct seasonal assemblages of other species which utilized the creeks primarily as young-of-the-year.  Important species in spring collections included the fishes Clupea harengus, Alosa aestivalis, Alosa pseudoharengus, Pollachius virens, and Urophycis regia, while Leiostomus xanthurus, Pomatomus saltatrix, Paralichthys dentatus, Mugil curema, and Strongylura marina were important in the summer.  Fall samples were best characterized by declining abundances of summer species.  Thus, subtidal marsh creeks in southern New Jersey appear to be valuable nurseries for a variety of species which spawn over the continental shelf, as well as one of the most important habitats for estuarine residents.

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