Linkages between seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh as fish habitat in the Botany Bay estuary, New South Wales

Saintilan, Neil; Hossain, Kamal; Mazumder, Debashish
July 2007
Wetlands Ecology & Management;Jul2007, Vol. 15 Issue 4, p277
Academic Journal
Shallow-water vegetated estuarine habitats, notably seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh, are known to be important habitats for many species of small or juvenile fish in temperate Australia. However, the movement of fish between these habitats is poorly understood, and yet critical to the management of the estuarine fisheries resource. We installed a series of buoyant pop nets in adjacent stands of seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh in order to determine how relative abundance of fishes varied through lunar cycles. Nets were released in all habitats at the peak of the monthly spring tide for 12 months, and in the seagrass habitat at the peak of the neap tide also. The assemblage of fish in each habitat differed during the spring tides. The seagrass assemblage differed between spring and neap tide, with the neap tide assemblage showing greater abundances of fish, particularly those species which visited the adjacent habitats when inundated during spring tides. The result supports the hypothesis that fish move from the seagrass to the adjacent mangrove and saltmarsh during spring tides, taking advantage of high abundances of zooplankton, and use seagrass as a refuge during lower tides. The restoration and preservation of mangrove and saltmarsh utility as fish habitat may in some situations be linked to the proximity of available seagrass.


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