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Fish assemblage structure and fisheries resources in Puerto Rico’s riverine estuaries

April 16, 2019

Tropical estuaries are diverse and productive habitats with respect to their fish assemblages and associated fisheries, but these ecosystems and fisheries are imperiled by multiple anthropogenic threats. Despite the economic, social, and biodiversity value of tropical estuarine fish assemblages, they are poorly understood, especially those on Caribbean islands. We sampled the fish assemblages of four estuaries that were broadly representative of riverine estuaries in Puerto Rico, including the Río Grande de Arecibo, Río Espiritu Santo, Río Mameyes, and Río Sabana. We used a combination of passive (gill nets) and active (seine) gears at locations that spanned the salinity gradient of each estuary during July–October 2013–2014 (rainy season) and March 2015 (dry season). Fish species richness among the riverine estuaries varied from 18 to 29 and was highest in the Río Espiritu Santo estuary. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling differentiated fish assemblages among estuaries but not by season or consistently by location within an estuary. Spearman's rank correlation analysis also revealed dissimilarity among each estuary's fish assemblage, as most pairwise correlations between the species compositions were not significant. We identified common and widespread species among estuaries, including sport fishes, such as the Tarpon Megalops atlanticus and Common Snook Centropomus undecimalis. As the only multi‐river assessment of riverine estuary fish assemblages in Puerto Rico, our results provide the best available information about the spatial variability of assemblages and fisheries resources. This information will benefit future conservation and fisheries management efforts, which are needed due to increasing anthropogenic impacts, such as illegal harvest, invasive species, and water diversions.

Publication Year 2019
Title Fish assemblage structure and fisheries resources in Puerto Rico’s riverine estuaries
DOI 10.1002/mcf2.10072
Authors A.C. Engman, Thomas J. Kwak, J.R. Fischer, C.G. Lilyestrom
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science
Index ID 70215599
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta