Volume 70

Spatial Distribution and Habitat Associations of Spawning Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) in South Texas

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Date: November, 2017

Pages: 167-168

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Merida, Yucatan

Country: México


Spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) are among the most sought-after fish by recreational anglers throughout the Gulf of Mexico. While information exists on the spawning season and reproductive biology for seatrout, little is known about the distribution of spawning sites in Texas. We lack knowledge about how spawning activity or fish abundances coincide with specific habitats (e.g. seagrass beds, oyster reefs, structures, navigation channels) or how they vary with changes in environmental conditions (e.g. salinity, temperature, depth). Male Seatrout produce unique sounds during spawning, which can be used to identify and monitor spawning sites. We used a combination of mobile and fixed hydrophones to monitor seatrout spawning within the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and Corpus Christi Bay, Texas. In 2016, we observed large spawning aggregations at 176 of the 378 stations sampled. The distribution of spawning sites among habitat types (seagrass, mud/sand, channel, reef/structure) was proportional to those sampled (χ2 = 2.91, df = 3, p = 0.41). Salinity was greater at large aggregation sites than non-spawning sites (W = 3071, p < 0.01), but temperature was not significantly different. We are currently monitoring spawning activity and periodicity at 16 sites among 4 habitat types throughout the estuary. Preliminary results from the monitoring sites indicates daily spawning. This information will assist in the successful management of the fishery and can help to preserve or restore essential fish habitat within the estuary.

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