Main content area

Interannual variability in the abundance and composition of spring larval fish assemblages in the Strait of Georgia (British Columbia, Canada) from 2007 to 2010

Guan, Lu, Dower, John F., McKinnell, Skip M., Pepin, Pierre, Pakhomov, Evgeny A., Hunt, Brian P. V.
Fisheries oceanography 2017 v.26 no.6 pp. 638-654
Clupea, Leuroglossus schmidti, Merluccius productus, Pleuronectiformes, Sebastes, chlorophyll, environmental factors, estuaries, fish communities, fish larvae, salinity, spring, surveys, water temperature, British Columbia
Spring larval fish assemblages in the Strait of Georgia (British Columbia, Canada) were characterized for the first time based on three spatially extensive field surveys in late‐April of 2007, 2009 and 2010, a period which spanned both warm and cold environmental conditions. The abundance, diversity and community structure of the assemblages were examined to investigate interannual variability, and responses to environmental fluctuations. A total of 49 taxa from 23 families were identified. The dominant taxa were Clupea pallasi, Gadus chalcogrammus, Merluccius productus, Leuroglossus schmidti, Lyopsetta exilis and Sebastes spp. Total larval abundance was much lower in 2009 (c. 32 per 1000 m³) than in 2007 and 2010 (c. 200 per 1000 m³). However, the mean size of individuals from several species was largest in 2009. Assemblage structure varied dramatically; from dominance by M. productus in 2007, to dominance by C. pallasi and G. chalcogrammus in 2009, followed by a shift to dominance by benthic species including Sebastes spp. and several flatfishes in 2010. Variability in assemblage structure among the three study years was primarily related to water temperature, whereas within‐year patterns were more closely associated with salinity and chlorophyll, both of which were affected by estuarine circulation. This study provides baseline information about the status of the larval fish community in the Strait of Georgia in recent years, and offers a better understanding of their short‐term dynamics and response to environmental fluctuations.