Condition of larval and juvenile red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus ) from estuarine nursery habitats
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RNA:DNA ratios of larval and juvenile red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) collected from nursery habitats in the Aransas Estuary, Texas, in 1994 were quantified using a highly sensitive ethidium-bromide fluorometric technique. RNA:DNA ratios of wild red drum were evaluated by comparing individual values to a linear regression model derived for starved laboratory-reared red drum. Wild red drum were in relatively good condition with <5% of the RNA:DNA ratios within or below the 95% prediction interval of 4 to 5 d starved red drum. A multiple-regression model explained 54% of the variability in the RNA:DNA ratio of wild red drum, and identified length and water temperature (midday) as significant factors. RNA:DNA ratios increased with fish length [≃1.1 mm−1, over the size range investigated (5␣to 20 mm)]. The effect of temperature on the RNA: DNA ratio was assessed on different sampling trips, and ratios increased with increasing temperature. Abundance of larval and juvenile red drum in the Aransas Estuary varied as a function of both habitat (shoal grass Halodule wrightii, turtle grass Thalassia testudinum) and site (Aransas Bay, Redfish Bay); however, no differences in RNA:DNA ratios were detected between habitats or between sites. It is postulated that the nutritional condition of newly settled red drum from the Aransas Estuary in 1994 was relatively high, and that starvation was of minor importance.
KeywordsWater Temperature Regression Model Nutritional Condition Size Range Linear Regression Model
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