Marine Biology

, Volume 145, Issue 5, pp 1001–1014 | Cite as

Distribution of carangid larvae (Teleostei: Carangidae) and concentrations of zooplankton in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with illustrations of early Hemicaranx amblyrhynchus and Caranx spp. larvae

  • James G. DittyEmail author
  • Richard F. Shaw
  • Joseph S. Cope
Research Article


We examined 1,825 bongo-net samples collected during Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) ichthyoplankton surveys of United States Gulf of Mexico waters (1982–1986) for carangid larvae. Objectives were to describe the distribution of carangid larvae and to examine distribution patterns relative to areas of higher zooplankton volumes in order to reveal areas that may be important nurseries. Samples contained about 29,200 carangid larvae from 13 species or species complexes in 11 genera. Chloroscombrus chrysurus and Decapterus punctatus accounted for 91.7% of all larvae. We found that the ‘scads’ (D. punctatus, Trachurus lathami, and Selar crumenophthalmus) utilize temporally and/or spatially distinct spawning strategies to reduce co-occurrence of larvae. Samples contained fewer larvae than expected of the amberjacks (Seriola spp.), Caranx crysos, and C. hippos/latus given the abundance of adults in the survey area, possibly due to inadequate sampling at appropriate times and locations, gear avoidance, or gear bias. Zooplankton displacement volumes (ZDVs) differed among regions and seasons and were inversely related to surface salinity and station depth. Differences among years were not significant. ZDVs were consistently highest near the Mississippi River delta and along the western Louisiana/eastern Texas shelf, and moderately high during summer and fall along the shelf break, with localized pockets of elevated volumes over the eastern Gulf shelf. We suggest that Chloroscombrus chrysurus, D. punctatus, T. lathami, and possibly Oligoplites saurus, Hemicaranx amblyrhynchus and Caranx crysos spawn in frontal areas and/or along other hydrographic features that promote higher productivity. We provide new illustrations and descriptive information for the larvae of H. amblyrhynchus and discuss characters that separate early larvae of several species of Caranx.


Continental Shelf Outer Shelf Depth Zone Mississippi River Delta National Marine Fishery Service 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The Marine Fisheries Initiative (MARFIN) Program (contracts NA86-WC-H-06117, NA87WC-H-06135, NA88WC-H-MF198, and NA90AA-H-MF111) funded final analyses. Special thanks to David L. Drullinger and Talat Farooqi at Louisiana State University who helped identify carangid larvae. Thanks also to the SEAMAP Ichthyoplankton Program; to data manager Ken Savastano [NOAA Fisheries, Pascagoula (retired)] for supplying SEAMAP environmental data; and to the Florida Department of Natural Resources for providing access to the SEAMAP samples. Thanks to Phil Caldwell (NOAA Fisheries, Galveston) for plotting the carangid and zooplankton distribution maps.


  1. Aprieto VL (1974) Early development of five carangid fishes of the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic Coast of the United States. Fish Bull US 72: 414–443Google Scholar
  2. Arnold EL Jr (1958) Gulf of Mexico plankton investigations: 1951–53. Special Scientific Report—Fisheries No. 269. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  3. Austin HM, Jones JI (1974) Seasonal variation of physical oceanographic parameters on the Florida middle ground and their relation to zooplankton biomass on the West Florida shelf. Fla Sci 37:16–32Google Scholar
  4. Berry FH (1959) Young jack crevalles (Caranx species) off the southeastern Atlantic Coast of the United States. Fish Bull US 152:417–535Google Scholar
  5. Bogdanov DV, Sokolov VA, Khromov NS (1968) Regions of high biological and commercial productivity in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Oceanology 8:371–381Google Scholar
  6. Bullis HR Jr, Carpenter JS (1968) Latent fishery resources of the central West Atlantic region. Univ Wash Publ Fish New Ser 4:61–64Google Scholar
  7. Bullis HR Jr, Thompson JR (1970) Bureau of commercial fisheries exploratory fishing and gear research base, Pascagoula, Mississippi—July 1, 1967 to June 30, 1969. Circular No. 351, US Fish and Wildlife ServiceGoogle Scholar
  8. Cochrane JD, Kelly FJ (1986) Low-frequency circulation on the Texas-Louisiana continental shelf. J Geophys Res 91:10645–10659Google Scholar
  9. Conand F, Franqueville C (1973) Identification and seasonal distribution of carangid larvae off the coasts of Senegal and Gambia (in French). Bull Inst Fondam Afr Noire Ser A Sci Nat XXXV:951–978Google Scholar
  10. Dagg MJ (1988) Physical and biological responses to the passage of a winter storm in the coastal and inner shelf waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Cont Shelf Res 8:167–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dagg MJ, Ortner PB, Al-Yamani FY (1987) Winter-time distribution and abundance of copepod nauplii in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Fish Bull US 86:319–330Google Scholar
  12. Dagg M, Grimes C, Lohrenz S, McKee B, Twilley R, Wiseman W Jr (1991) Continental shelf food chains of the northern Gulf of Mexico. In: Sherman K, Alexander LM, Gold BD (eds) Food chains, yields, models, and management of large marine ecosystems. Westview, Boulder, Colo., pp 67–106Google Scholar
  13. Daniel WW (1990) Applied nonparametric statistics, 2nd edn. PWS-Kent, Boston, Mass.Google Scholar
  14. Dickey-Collas MR, Gowen RJ, Fox CJ (1996) Distribution of larval and juvenile fish in the western Irish Sea: relationship to phytoplankton, zooplankton biomass and recurrent physical features. Mar Freshw Res 47:169–181Google Scholar
  15. Dinnel SP, Wiseman WJ Jr (1986) Fresh water on the Louisiana and Texas shelf. Cont Shelf Res 6:765–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ditty JG, Truesdale FM (1984) Ichthyoplankton surveys of near shore Gulf waters off Louisiana: January–February and July, 1976. Assoc SE Biol Bull 31:55–56Google Scholar
  17. Ditty JG, Zieske GG, Shaw RF (1988) Seasonality, depth, and areal distribution of larval fishes in the northern Gulf of Mexico above 26° 00′ N latitude. Fish Bull 86:811–823Google Scholar
  18. Elwertowski J, Boely T (1971) Repartition saisonniere’ des poissons pelagiques cotiers dans les eaux Mauritaniennes et Senegalaises (in French). Trav Doc ORSTOM, Dakar-Thiaroye, No. 22Google Scholar
  19. Fahay MP (1975) An annotated list of larval and juvenile fishes captured with surface-towed meter net in the South Atlantic Bight during four RV Dolphin cruises between May 1967 and February 1968. NOAA Tech Rep NMFS SSRF-685Google Scholar
  20. Farris D (1961) Abundance and distribution of eggs and larvae and survival of larvae of jack mackerel (Trachurus symmetricus). Fish Bull US 61:247–279Google Scholar
  21. Fields HM (1962) Pompanos (Trachinotus spp.) of South Atlantic Coast of the United States. Fish Bull US 207:189–222Google Scholar
  22. Finucane JH, Collins LA, Barger LE (1979a) Determine the effects of discharges on seasonal abundance, distribution, and composition of ichthyoplankton in the oil field. In: Jackson WB (ed) Environmental assessment of an active oil field in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, 1977–1978, vol 2. Data management and biological investigation. NOAA Final Report to EPA, Contract No EPA-IAG-D5-E693-EO, pp 2.3.6.-1 to 2.3.6.-157Google Scholar
  23. Finucane JH, Collins LA, Barger LE, McEachran JB (1979b) Ichthyoplankton/mackerel eggs and larvae. In: Jackson WB (ed) Environmental studies of the south Texas outer continental shelf 1977. NOAA Final Report to BLM, Contract No AA550-IA7–21, pp 1–504Google Scholar
  24. Flores-Coto C, Sanchez-Ramirez M (1989) Larval distribution and abundance of Carangidae (Pisces) from the southern Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Res Rep 8:117–128Google Scholar
  25. Flores-Coto C, Sanchez-Rameriz M, Zavala-Garcia F (1998) Desarrollo larvario de Hemicaranx amblyrhynchus (Pisces: Carangidae), del sur del Golfo de Mexico. Rev Biol Trop 46:431–438Google Scholar
  26. Flores-Coto C, Flores-Hernandez F, Zavala-Garcia F, Arenas-Fuentes V, Monreal-Gomez MA, Salas-de-Leon DA (2000) Oceanic and neritic ichthyoplankton at the edge of the continental shelf in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Carib Res 12:31–35Google Scholar
  27. Flores-Coto C, Rivas-Vega R, Zavala-Garcia F, Sanchez-Robles J (2001) Vertical distribution of larval carangids in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Carib Res 13:1-8Google Scholar
  28. Goodwin JM, Finucane JH (1985) Reproductive biology of blue runner (Caranx crysos) from the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Northeast Gulf Sci 7:139–146Google Scholar
  29. Grimes CB, Finucane JH (1991) Spatial distribution and abundance of larval and juvenile fish, chlorophyll and macrozooplankton around the Mississippi River discharge plume, and the role of the plume in fish recruitment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 75:109–119Google Scholar
  30. Hales LS Jr (1987) Distribution, abundance, reproduction, food habits, age, and growth of round scad, Decapterus punctatus, in the South Atlantic Bight. Fish Bull US 85:251–268Google Scholar
  31. Hoese HD (1965) Spawing of marine fishes in Port Aransas, Texas, as determined by the distribution of young, and larvae. PhD dissertation, University of TexasGoogle Scholar
  32. Houde ED (1982) Kinds, distributions and abundances of sea bass larvae (Pisces: Serranidae) from the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Bull Mar Sci 32:511–522Google Scholar
  33. Houde ED, Chitty N (1976) Seasonal abundance and distribution of zooplankton, fish eggs, and fish larvae in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 1972–74. NOAA Tech Rep NMFS SSRF-701Google Scholar
  34. Houde ED, Leak JA, Dowd CE, Berkeley SA, Richards WJ (1979) Ichthyoplankton abundance and diversity in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.Google Scholar
  35. Howey TW (1976) Plankton of the Gulf of Mexico: distribution of displacement volume, occurrence of systematic groups, abundance and diversity among copepods. PhD dissertation, Department of Zoology, Louisiana State University, Baton RougeGoogle Scholar
  36. Ichiye T (1962) Circulation and water mass distribution in the Gulf of Mexico. Geofis Int (Mexico City) 2:47–76Google Scholar
  37. Juhl R (1966) Experimental fish trawling survey along the Florida west coast. Commer Fish Rev 28:1–5Google Scholar
  38. Katsuragawa M, Matsuura Y (1992) Distribution and abundance of carangid larvae in the southeastern Brazilian Bight during 1975–1981. Bolm Inst Oceanogr Sao Paulo 40:55–78Google Scholar
  39. Khromov NS (1969) Distribution of plankton in the Gulf of Mexico and some aspects of its seasonal dynamics (English translation). In: Bogdanov AS (ed) Soviet-Cuban fishery research. Israel Program for ScientificTranslations, Jerusalem, pp 36–56Google Scholar
  40. Kingsford MJ (1988) The early life history of fish in coastal waters of northern New Zealand: a review. NZ J Mar Freshw Res 22:463–479Google Scholar
  41. Klima EF (1971) Distribution of some coastal pelagic fishes in the western Atlantic. Commer Fish Rev 33:21–34Google Scholar
  42. Laroche WA, Smith-Vaniz WF, Richardson SL (1984) Carangidae: development. In: Moser HG, Richards WJ, Cohen DM, Fahay MP, Kendall AW Jr, Richardson SL (eds) Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 1. Allen, Lawrence, Kan., pp 510–522Google Scholar
  43. Leak JC (1977) Distribution and abundance of Carangidae (Pisces, Perciformes) larvae in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 1971–1974. MSc thesis, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.Google Scholar
  44. Leak JC (1981) Distribution and abundance of carangid fish larvae in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 1971–1974. Biol Oceanogr 1:1–28Google Scholar
  45. Leffler DL, Shaw RF (1992) Age validation, growth, and mortality of larval Atlantic bumper (Carangidae: Chloroscombrus chrysurus) in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Fish Bull US 90:711–719Google Scholar
  46. Lyons JM (1978) Distribution and abundance of the larvae of Decapterus punctatus (Pisces, Carangidae) and Bothus spp. (Pisces, Bothidae) in the Florida and Yucatan Straits. MSc thesis, Florida State University, TallahasseeGoogle Scholar
  47. Masuma S, Kanematu M, Teruya K (1990) Embryonic and morphological development of larvae and juveniles of the amberjack, Seriola dumerili. Jap J Ichthyol 37:164–169Google Scholar
  48. McBride RS, Stengard FJ, Mahmoudi B (2002) Maturation and diel reproductive periodicity of round scad (Carangidae: Decapterus punctatus). Mar Biol 140:713–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McKenney TW, Alexander EC, Voss GL (1958) Early development and larval distribution of the carangid fish, Caranx crysos (Mitchill). Bull Mar Sci 8:167–199Google Scholar
  50. Montolio MA (1976) Estudio taxonomico y morfometrico de los estadios larvales de dos especies de Carangidae Decapterus punctatus (Agassiz, 1829) y Caranx crysos (Mitchill, 1815) y su distribucion en el Golfo de Mexico (in Spanish). Rev Invest Inst Nac Pesca 2:85–125Google Scholar
  51. Nakamura EL (1980) Carangids of the northern Gulf of Mexico. In: Flandorfer M, Skupien L (eds) Proceedings of a workshop for potential fishery resources of the northern Gulf of Mexico, March 4–5, 1980, New Orleans, La., pp 18–33Google Scholar
  52. Ortner PB, Hill LC, Cummings SR (1989) Zooplankton community structure and copepod species composition in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Cont Shelf Res 9:387–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reintjes JW (1979) Coastal herrings and associated species: a profile of species or groups of species, their biology, ecology, current exploitation with economic and social information. Report to the Gulf of Mexico Fish Management Council by NOAA NMFS Southeast Fish Science Center, Beaufort, North CarolinaGoogle Scholar
  54. Richards WJ, McGowan MF (1989) Biological productivity in the Gulf of Mexico: identifying the causes of variability in fisheries. In: Sherman K, Alexander LM (eds) Biomass yields and geography of large marine ecosystems. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Symposium No. 111, pp 287–325Google Scholar
  55. Richards WJ, McGowan MF, Leming T, Lamkin JT, Kelley S (1993) Larval fish assemblages at the Loop Current boundary in the Gulf of Mexico. Bull Mar Sci 53:475–537Google Scholar
  56. Ruple DL (1984) Occurrence of larval fishes in the surf zone of a northern Gulf of Mexico barrier island. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 18:191–208Google Scholar
  57. Sameoto DD (1984) Environmental factors influencing diurnal distribution of zooplankton and ichthyoplankton. J Plankton Res 6:767–791Google Scholar
  58. Sanchez-Ramirez M, C. Flores-Coto (1993) Desarrollo larvario y clave de identificacion de algunas espesies de la familia Carangidae (Pisces) del sur del Golfo de Mexico. An Inst Cienc Mar Limnol Univ Nac Auton Mex 20:1–24Google Scholar
  59. Sanchez-Ramirez M, Flores-Coto C (1998) Growth and mortality of larval Atlantic bumper Chloroscombrus chrysurus (Pisces: Carangidae) in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Bull Mar Sci 63:295–303Google Scholar
  60. Sanchez-Velasco L, Flores-Coto C (1994) Larval fish assemblages at the Yucatan Shelf and in the Mexican Caribbean Sea during the upwelling period (Spring, 1985). Sci Mar 58:289–297Google Scholar
  61. Shaw RF, Drullinger DL (1990) Early-life-history profiles, seasonal abundance, and distribution of four species of carangid larvae off Louisiana, 1982 and 1983. NOAA NMFS Technical Report No. 89Google Scholar
  62. Smith PE, Richardson SL (1977) Standard techniques for pelagic fish egg and larva surveys. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 175Google Scholar
  63. Tachihara K, Ebisu R, Tukashima Y (1993) Spawning, eggs, larvae and juveniles of the purplish amberjack, Seriola dumerili. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 59:1479–1488Google Scholar
  64. Temple RF, Harrington DL, Martin JA (1977) Monthly temperature and salinity measurements of continental shelf waters in the western Gulf of Mexico 1963–1965. NOAA Technical Report NMFS SSRF-707Google Scholar
  65. Thompson BA, Brown L (1994) Identification, distribution and life history of lesser amberjack, Seriola fasciata (abstract). Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Louisiana and Mississippi Chapters, February 10–11, Natchez, Miss.Google Scholar
  66. Thompson BA, Beasley M, Wilson CA (1998) Age distribution and growth of greater amberjack, Seriola dumerili, from the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Fish Bull US 97:362–371Google Scholar
  67. Wiseman WJ Jr, Turner RE, Kelly FJ, Rouse LJ Jr, Shaw RF (1986) Analysis of biological and chemical associations near a turbid coastal front during winter 1982. Contrib Mar Sci, Univ Texas 29:141–151Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • James G. Ditty
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard F. Shaw
    • 2
  • Joseph S. Cope
    • 3
  1. 1.Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Galveston Laboratory, Fishery Ecology Branch, Taxonomy and Ecology LaboratoryNOAA FisheriesGalvestonUSA
  2. 2.Coastal Fisheries Institute, Center for Coastal, Energy and Environmental ResourcesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Virginia Institute of Marine ScienceChesapeake Bay HallGloucester PointUSA

Personalised recommendations