Nekton variations in tributaries along a hydrologically modified North Carolina estuary
Structure and temporal variability in nekton communities were examined for four small brackish creeks along a major tributary (Adams Creek) of the Neuse River estuary, North Carolina during May-September 1994. An inverse salinity gradient was observed along Adams Creek with highest values in the most upstream creek due to a man-made channel connecting the creek to the Newport River estuary. The nekton communities of the four tributaries were similar with some differences in relative abundance of individual species and timing of recruitment and migrations. Bay anchovies (67%), spot (19%), and brown shrimp (6%) were the most abundant species, with the top ten species accounting for 98% of the total catch. The transport of high salinity water (and presumably nekton larvae) into the headwaters of Adams Creek via the canal appeared to have a strong influence on the nekton community; the nekton community present in the Adams Creek system resembled communities in mesohaline waters closer to the outer banks rather than those in an adjacent creek along the Neuse River estuary (South River estuary). Cluster analysis indicated nekton in the creeks could be grouped into early and late season assemblages. Canonical correspondence analysis suggested that neither the creeks nor the dominant species were strongly related to any measured environmental variables indicating habitat suitability was similar regardless of the differences in watershed activities among the four creeks.
Kirby-Smith, WW; Lebo, ME; Herrmann, RB
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