Juvenile Rockfish (Sebastes spp.) Community Composition and Habitat use of Yaquina Bay, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/4m90f0201

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  • Estuaries, which provide viable habitat for a plethora of fish and invertebrate species, are being increasingly impacted by anthropogenic and natural forces. Estuaries are important nursery habitat for young-of-the-year (YOY) Pacific rockfish (Sebastes spp.). Yaquina Bay, a marine-dominated estuary on the central Oregon Coast, served as a study site for the estuarine use of juvenile rockfishes, and large numbers of juvenile rockfish have been captured in this bay. Nursery habitats must provide rearing habitat, adequate food resources and refuge. A vital but lacking connection in our understanding of estuaries as nursery habitat is how rockfishes use the different microhabitats within an estuarine ecosystem. As habitats structure biotic communities, determining the ecological requirements for juvenile rockfish habitats that minimize mortality, maximize growth and increase population numbers will assist managers and biologists in managing and protecting critical high-quality nursery areas. This study provides insight into Oregon rockfish life history, evaluating the spatial and temporal use of estuarine nursery habitat by juvenile rockfishes. The primary objectives were to (1) determine which species of rockfish utilize Yaquina Bay, (2) determine seasonal variations in abundance, and (3) assess the utilization of natural (eelgrass beds, Zostera marina) versus anthropogenic (piers) estuarine habitat. I conducted a mark-recapture study of juvenile rockfishes to begin to elucidate how these species may be using different habitats in the bay. This study provides evidence for the presence of previously undocumented rockfish species, the overwinter persistence of juvenile rockfish in the estuary, some degree of site fidelity, and apparent minimal movement of juvenile rockfish in the Yaquina Bay estuary during the period of this study, as well as a shift in rockfish community dominance from S. melanops to S. maliger and S. caurinus. The survival and recapture of juveniles in both natural (Z. marina) and anthropogenic (piers) habitat demonstrates rockfishes’ successful use of multiple Yaquina Bay habitat types as nursery grounds year-round. There is seasonal variability in rockfish use of the anthropogenic and natural habitat, with the anthropogenic habitats having an overall higher capture rate and a higher occurrence of larger rockfish. All eight species S. melanops, S. maliger, S. caurinus, S. paucispinis, S. flavidus, S. nebulosus, S. pinniger and S. auriculatus are present in the natural, Z. marina habitat. Sebastes pinniger and S. auriculatus are absent from anthropogenic, pier habitat. The implications of determining habitat parameters, community interactions, seasonal changes of the fish community, and ecosystem mechanisms may be invaluable to support further recreational and commercial fishing and help sustain or increase adult populations. My findings present a significant contribution towards the proper management and conservation of essential habitat for rockfish, a group of species with high commercial value and substantial recreational harvest.
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  • description.provenance : Submitted by Amy Lindsley (lindslam@oregonstate.edu) on 2016-07-02T06:23:42Z No. of bitstreams: 2 license_rdf: 1536 bytes, checksum: df76b173e7954a20718100d078b240a8 (MD5) LindsleyAmyJ2016.pdf: 1569976 bytes, checksum: 431a4bbe560044f76451b2de8a30e806 (MD5)
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