Abundance and diversity of sub-adult fishes in impounded South Carolina marshes
Carswell, Benjamin Lane
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In coastal South Carolina, most impounded marshes are managed for waterfowl; fewer are managed for fishes. Tidal control is central to each strategy but raises concerns that nursery function could be impaired. This research examined the assemblage composition of fishes during early-life stages. I sampled two impoundments of each management type monthly in 2008 and 2009. I used light traps to collect 61,527 sub-adult fish representing 21 species and 16 families and push nets to collect 12,670 sub-adult fish representing 13 species and 11 families. The effective number of species detected at larval stage in “fish” impoundments (summer mean=2.52±0.20, winter mean=2.02±0.66) was greater than in “waterfowl” impoundments (summer mean=1.27±0.14, winter mean=1.06±0.09); C.I.=90%. Species richness did not differ between management types, but hierarchical linear models predicted differences in assemblage composition. These findings underscore the importance of frequent water exchange for maintaining diverse assemblages of early-life-stage fishes in marsh impoundments.