Settlement and nursery habitats for demersal fishes on the continental shelf of the New York Bight

Brian P. Steves, Robert K. Cowen, Mark H. Malchoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


Although juvenile fish are studied extensively in estuarine and nearshore environments, surprisingly little is known about the basic habitat requirements of juveniles for offshore settlement and nursery areas. Between June 1996 and July 1997, settlement and nursery habitats of age-0 (early juvenile) demersal fish on the continental shelf of the New York Bight were investigated by using a two-meter beam trawl. Replicate tows at 21 stations along three cross-shelf transects (20-95 m depth), were sampled on a near monthly basis to determine general ecology (21,309 fish collected in 659 tows). Of the 47 species collected, 33 included age-0 juveniles, and 25 included near-settlement size individuals. The two dominant species, Pleuronectes ferrugineus and Merluccius bilinearis, constituted 88.9% of the total catch of age-0 fish. Of all age-0 fish, 94% were collected during summer and fall. Comparisons of weighted means and the use of canonical correspondence analysis determined that settlement and nursery habitats across the shelf are primarily delineated by depth, temperature, and time of year. Three zones across the shelf (inner, middle, and outer) each had distinct juvenile fish assemblages. Knowledge gained about the distribution and quality of juvenile habitat for commercially important offshore species should facilitate their improved management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-188
Number of pages22
JournalFishery Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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