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Factors contributing to variability in larval ingress of Atlantic menhaden, Brevoortia tyrannus.
Lozano, C; Houde, ED
Annual recruitment levels of age-0 juvenile Atlantic menhaden to Chesapeake Bay, which historically supported >65% of coastwide recruitment, have been consistently low since the 1980s. Diminished larval supply to the Bay is one hypothesized explanation. In a three-year ichthyoplankton survey at the Chesapeake Bay mouth, abundance of ingressing larvae varied nine-fold among years. Larvae were most abundant in 2007-2008 and less abundant in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. High month-to-month variability in larval concentrations was attributable primarily to seasonality of occurrences. There was no defined spatial pattern in distribution of larvae across the 18-km-wide Bay mouth, but larvae at the south side were longer and older on average than larvae at the middle and north side. Environmental variables measured at the times of larval collections were not correlated consistently with temporal and spatial variability in abundance of larvae at ingress, highlighting complexity and suggesting that abundance may be controlled by processes occurring offshore during the pre-ingress phase. Moreover, the substantial differences in inter-annual abundances of larvae at the Bay mouth were not concordant with subsequent abundances of age-0 juveniles in the three survey years, indicating that important processes affecting recruitment of Atlantic menhaden operate after ingress, during the larval to juvenile transition stage.
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