Tidal water exchange drives fish and crustacean abundances in salt marshes

de la Barra, Paula, Skov, Martin W., Lawrence, Peter ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9809-0221 , Schiaffi, Juan I. and Hiddink, Jan G. (2022) Tidal water exchange drives fish and crustacean abundances in salt marshes. Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS), 694 . pp. 61-72.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14118


Coastal salt marshes provide important habitat for fishes and crustaceans, including species of commercial value that feed or take refuge in the marsh. Yet population abundances vary considerably between sites, often without clear explanation. We hypothesised that faunal abundance and mean size would be positively related to 2 physical properties that govern marsh accessibility to water-dependent species, as has been found on the southeastern coast of the USA: (1) the volume of water exchanged by tidal flooding, which gives access to the marsh, and (2) edge amount, the length of the water-vegetation borderline per unit area where species can take refuge and feed. Digital terrain models and tidal information were used to select 5 marshes in Wales, UK, that differed in edge amount and water exchange (52°N, 4°W). Fishes and crustaceans were sampled using baited traps, fyke nets and seine nets. In total, 15 species were caught, including commercially valuable brown shrimp, European eel and sea bass. We found water exchange volume, but not edge amount, boosted fish and crustacean abundances. Crab and sea bass sizes were both negatively affected by water exchange, while shrimp and fish sizes were unaffected. Our findings show how the mechanisms that drive fish and crustacean abundances and sizes vary between geographical regions. Feasibly, fisheries associations with marsh hydrogeomorphology might operate differently as well.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS)
Publisher: Inter-Research
ISSN: 1616-1599
Departments: Institute of Science and Environment > Forestry and Conservation
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
SWORD Depositor: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2022 08:58
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 13:46
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6551


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