RESEARCH ARTICLE


Examination of an Estuarine Fish Assemblage Over an Inshore Artificial Reef



Kirsten A. Simonsen1, *, James H. Cowan Jr1, Andrew J. Fischer2
1 Louisiana State University, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, 2197 Energy Coast and Environment Building, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA 70803
2 Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, PO Box 98000, 2000 Quail Dr, Baton Rouge, LA, USA 70898


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© 2013 Simonsen et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Louisiana State University, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, 2197 Energy Coast and Environment Building, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803 USA; Tel: (206) 526-4163; Fax: (225) 578-6513; Email: kirsten.a.simonsen@gmail.com
Current Address: National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way, Seattle, WA, 98115 USA


Abstract

The perceived value of oyster reefs as fish habitat has led to many restoration projects in areas of historically high oyster populations. This study evaluated fish usage of a limestone cobble mimic oyster reef in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, as compared to a mud-bottom reference site. Emphasis was given to species of economic and ecological importance, including spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), and bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli). There were no observed differences in community structure or catch per unit effort (CPUE) between habitats, likely due to high variability in the data, though seasonal differences were observed. CPUE of spotted seatrout, Atlantic croaker, and bay anchovy did not differ between habitats. Seasonal differences in abundance were detected, with significantly higher CPUE of spotted seatrout in summer, of Atlantic croaker in spring and summer, and of bay anchovy in winter. Spotted seatrout and Atlantic croaker were both significantly larger over the artificial reef, while bay anchovy were significantly larger over the mud bottom. Spotted seatrout, a prized recreational fishing species in Louisiana, appeared to be the only species that showed higher biomass, determined by numbers and size, at the the artificial reef. This is important in the context of managing habitat enhancement projects. While the reef did not increase numbers or species richness of the overall fish community, it did have an effect on one recreationally important species. Therefore, the success of such projects is based as much on the intended purpose, as its affect on the overall community.

Keywords: Estuary, Artificial reef, Community structure, Spotted seatrout, Atlantic croaker, Bay anchovy.