We investigated spatial distribution of fishes and decapods in eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) and non-vegetated sandy habitats in Kouchibouguac Estuary, New Brunswick, Canada. During the ice-free season in 1999 and 2000, mobile fauna were sampled using fyke nets, minnow traps and an epibenthic sled. In general, fishes and decapods were more abundant and diverse (species richness) in eelgrass beds than in nearby sandy habitats, although the trend in abundance of decapods was not statistically significant. Abundance was greater at night than during daylight hours for most species. Atlantic tomcod (Microgadus tomcod), winter flounder (Pleuronectes americanus) and sand shrimp (Crangon septemspinosa) dominated night/crepuscular catches, whereas threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus) predominated in diurnal periods. The nursery function of eelgrass habitat was most evident for juvenile white hake (Urophycis tenuis) and small cunners (<3 cm), which were found only in such habitat. This study is one of the few to have investigated the ecological importance of eelgrass habitats for mobile faunal communities in eastern Canada.

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Keywords Community structure, Eelgrass influence, Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10452-005-9027-x
Journal Aquatic Ecology
Joseph, V. (Venitia), Locke, A. (Andrea), & Godin, J.-G.J. (2006). Spatial distribution of fishes and decapods in eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) and sandy habitats of a New Brunswick estuary, eastern Canada. Aquatic Ecology, 40(1), 111–123. doi:10.1007/s10452-005-9027-x