Comparing diversity of estuarine-dependent nekton between Aransas Pass and Packery Channel inlets




Kuntz, Joseph
Coffey, Daniel
Kaiser, Jeffrey
Williams, Jason
Stunz, Gregory


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Tidal inlets play an essential role in estuarine-dependent nekton recruitment by providing access to nursery habitats (e.g., seagrass meadows) from spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. The Corpus Christi Bay region includes Aransas Pass, a historically large inlet, and Packery Channel, a smaller natural tidal inlet permanently reopened in 2005. The purpose of this study was to (1) determine whether there is a seasonal difference in species diversity between the Aransas Pass (large) and Packery Channel (small) inlets and (2) determine if the distance from the inlet has an effect on species diversity. Shannon diversity indices were calculated from juvenile nekton (fish, shrimp, and crab) species collected using epibenthic sled tows from eight seagrass meadow sites near Aransas Pass and four sites near Packery Channel across three primary recruitment seasons (fall, winter, and spring). There was no significant difference in species diversity between the Aransas Pass and Packery Channel inlet, though there was a significant difference among seasons. Diversity was significantly higher during the winter and spring recruitment seasons at both inlets compared to the fall. In addition, distance (2-10 km) from the inlet had no significant effect on species diversity regardless of the season. These findings demonstrate that despite differences in size and age, Aransas Pass and Packery Channel support equally diverse nursery habitats across a range of distances for estuarine-dependent nekton species.



fisheries, laguna madre, post-larval settlement, essential fish habitat, ingress



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