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Marine Biology

, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 45–54 | Cite as

Winter mortality, growth, and behavior of young-of-the-year of four coastal fishes in New Jersey (USA) waters

  •  L. Hales Jr
  •  K. Able

Abstract.

Winter mortality has been hypothesized to select for large body size in young-of-the-year (YOY) fishes, yet substantiation of winter mortality and its cause(s) are available for few estuarine or marine species. We examined seasonal length distributions of wild populations of four common marine species, black sea bass (Centropristis striata), tautog (Tautoga onitis), cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus), and smallmouth flounder (Etropus microstomus), and mortality (i.e., frequency of death), growth, and behavior of their YOY in the laboratory at ambient winter temperatures (mean 7°C, range 2–13°C) during a 135-day period (December 1992 through mid-April 1993) to establish potential causes of their mortality in the field. Young-of-the-year black sea bass experienced 100% mortality when water temperatures decreased to 2–3°C in February, emphasizing the importance of winter emigration from estuaries in this southern species. The low mortality of two labrid species, YOY tautog (14%) and YOY cunner (3%), was consistent with their northern distribution and year-round occurrence in estuarine and nearshore coastal waters. Laboratory mortality of YOY smallmouth flounder (33%) was higher for small (<35 mm total length) fish, suggesting that this small species may experience high winter mortality in estuaries and nearshore coastal waters. Seasonal differences in fish length result potentially from several mechanisms (e.g., mortality and/or migration) that are difficult to assess, but our laboratory experiments suggest that seasonal temperature changes cause size-specific mortality of YOY smallmouth flounder and offshore migration of YOY black sea bass.

Keywords

Marine Species Fish Length Seasonal Length Coastal Fish Winter Mortality 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  •  L. Hales Jr
    • 1
  •  K. Able
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Field Station, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, 800 c/o 132 Great Bay Blvd., Tuckerton, NJ 08087-2004, USA

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