Preliminary survey and diet analysis of juvenile fishes of an estuarine creek on Andros Island, Bahamas
Estuarine habitats are important nursery and feeding areas for a variety of fish and invertebrate species. Although numerous studies have investigated trophic linkages in temperate estuarine systems, few have empirically examined these relationships in tropical and subtropical estuaries (Colton and Alevizon, 1983; Heck and Weinstein, 1989; Warburton and Blaber, 1992; Ley et al., 1994; Crabtree et al., 1998). Without knowledge of dietary relationships among organisms, community structure and population interactions are difficult to deduce. To this end, a food web approach can be valuable in the study of natural communities (Polis and Winemiller, 1996). Since many tropical and subtropical estuaries are numerically dominated by juvenile fishes (Arrivillaga and Baltz, 1999), the trophic role of these life stages is especially important. Juvenile fish utilization of mangrove and seagrass habitats has been documented in the Caribbean (Robblee and Zieman, 1984; Stoner, 1986; Rooker and Dennis, 1991; Sedberry and Carter, 1993) and Florida (Thayer et al., 1987; Sheridan, 1997; Ley et al., 1999), although few studies have analyzed feeding habitats of the juvenile fishes in these areas (Heck and Weinstein, 1989; Hettler, 1989; Ley et al., 1994). To our knowledge, there have been no published studies of the distribution and diet of fishes in estuarine creeks, and associated seagrass or mangrove areas, in the Bahamian Islands. The purpose of our study was twofold: (1) identify fish species utilizing five major habitat types (sandflat, mangrove, seagrass, rocky structure and artificial structure) of an estuarine creek on Andros Island, Bahamas, and (2) provide a preliminary diet analysis of common juvenile fishes.
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