Subtroprical wetland fish assemblages and changing salinity regimes: Implications for everglades restoration

Jerome J. Lorenz, Joseph E. Serafy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During the 1960s, water management practices resulted in the conversion of the wetlands that fringe northeastern Florida Bay (USA) from freshwater/oligohaline herbaceous marshes to dwarf red mangrove forests. Coincident with this conversion were several ecological changes to Florida Bay's fauna, including reductions in the abundances of top trophic-level consumers: piscivorous fishes, alligators, crocodiles, and wading birds. Because these taxa rely on a common forage base of small demersal fishes, food stress has been implicated as playing a role in their respective declines. In the present study, we monitored the demersal fishes seasonally at six sites over an 8-year time period. During monitoring, extremely high rainfall conditions occurred over a 3.5-year period leading to salinity regimes that can be viewed as "windows" to the area's natural past and future restored states. In this paper, we: (1) examine the changes in fish communities over the 8-year study period and relate them to measured changes in salinity; (2) make comparisons among marine, brackish and freshwater demersal fish communities in terms of species composition, density, and biomass; and (3) discuss several implications of our findings in light of the intended and unintended water management changes that are planned or underway as part of Everglades restoration. Results suggest the reduction in freshwater flow to Florida Bay over the last several decades has reduced demersal fish populations, and thus prey availability for apex consumers in the coastal wetlands compared to the pre-drainage inferred standard. Furthermore, greater discharge of freshwater toward Florida Bay may result in the re-establishment of pre-1960s fauna, including a more robust demersal-fish community that should prompt increases in populations of several important predatory species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-422
Number of pages22
JournalHydrobiologia
Volume569
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

demersal fish
Wetlands
Fish
Restoration
wetlands
wetland
salinity
fish
water management
Water management
fauna
alligators
crocodiles
prey availability
mangrove forests
coastal wetland
freshwater fish
trophic level
mangrove
marshes

Keywords

  • Demersal fishes
  • Everglades
  • Fish community dynamics
  • Salinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Water Science and Technology

Cite this

Subtroprical wetland fish assemblages and changing salinity regimes : Implications for everglades restoration. / Lorenz, Jerome J.; Serafy, Joseph E.

In: Hydrobiologia, Vol. 569, No. 1, 01.10.2006, p. 401-422.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lorenz, Jerome J. ; Serafy, Joseph E. / Subtroprical wetland fish assemblages and changing salinity regimes : Implications for everglades restoration. In: Hydrobiologia. 2006 ; Vol. 569, No. 1. pp. 401-422.
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