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Early post-settlement habitat and diet shifts and the nursery function of tidepools during Sillago spp. recruitment in Moreton Bay, Australia


Krueck, NC and Chargulaf, CA and Saint-Paul, U and Tibbetts, IR, Early post-settlement habitat and diet shifts and the nursery function of tidepools during Sillago spp. recruitment in Moreton Bay, Australia, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 384 pp. 207-219. ISSN 0171-8630 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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© Inter-Research 2009

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps07992


Knowledge of settlement and recruitment processes is crucial for the conservation and sustainable management of commercial fish stocks, yet for some species such information is limited. We investigated the length-frequency distribution and feeding activity of 0-group Sillago whiting on mudflats in Moreton Bay, Australia, and evaluated whether permanent intertidal residence is (1) an integral component of recruitment and (2) related to the suitability of temporary microhabitats (tidepools) as primary nursery refuges. A total of 399 whiting, comprising the 3 commercially and/or recreationally important species S. analis, S. ciliata and S. maculata, were collected from intertidal pools and adjacent subtidal waters during low tide. Newly settled metamorphic larvae dominated whiting assemblages in tidepools (>80%) and fed almost exclusively on meiofaunal copepods and nematodes. It was only once metamorphosis was complete that new settlers joined the main juvenile population—i.e. they commenced tidal migrations, or they took up permanent residence in subtidal seagrass beds (>90% juveniles), and shifted their diet towards macrofaunal decapods and polychaetes. During the critical first weeks after settlement, occupation of intertidal pools seemed likely to increase fitness of whiting. Specifically, the pools may provide shelter from predation, temperature-induced increases in growth and temporally extended access to intertidal meiofauna. The latter, however, appeared to vary depending on whether copepods or nematodes were the preferred prey, and whether occupied pools were isolated or interconnected. Resource and conservation managers should consider largely structureless mud- and sandflats as primary nursery zones for Sillago populations throughout their range in the Indo-Pacific.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fish population dynamics, recruitment, marine ecology, nursery habitat, resource sharing, trophic ecology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Wild caught fin fish (excl. tuna)
UTAS Author:Krueck, NC (Dr Nils Krueck)
ID Code:145755
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:22
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2021-08-04
Last Modified:2021-09-23
Downloads:6 View Download Statistics

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