Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2016-20

Title: 

Factors affecting the abundance of age-0 Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) in Chesapeake Bay.

Year: 

2016

Authors: 

Houde, ED; Annis, ER; Harding, LW; Mallonee, ME; Wilberg, MJ

Source: 

ICES Journal of Marine Science 73(9):2238-2251

DOI: 

10.1093/icesjms/fsw063

Abstract: 

The abundance of prerecruit, age-0 Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), declined to low levels in Chesapeake Bay in the 1990s, after two decades of high abundances in the 1970s-1980s. Environmental factors and trophodynamics were hypothesized to control age-0 menhaden abundance. Data on age-0 menhaden abundance from seine and trawl surveys were analysed with respect to primary productivity, chlorophyll a (Chl a), and environmental variables. Abundance from 1989 to 2004 was strongly correlated with metrics of primary production and euphotic-layer Chl a, especially during spring months when larval menhaden transform into filter-feeding, phytoplanktivorous juveniles. Correlation, principal components, and multiple regression analyses were conducted that identified factors associated with age-0 menhaden abundance. Primary production, Chl a, and variables associated with freshwater flow, e.g. Secchi disk depth and zooplankton assemblages, were correlated with age-0 menhaden abundance. Lengths of age-0 menhaden were positively related to mean levels of annual primary production. However, lengths were negatively related to age-0 menhaden abundance, indicating that growth may be density-dependent. The identified relationships suggest that numbers of menhaden larvae ingressing to Chesapeake Bay and environmental factors that subsequently control primary productivity and food for juveniles within the Bay may control recruitment levels of Atlantic menhaden.

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