Dynamics of larval fish and zooplankton in selected south and west coast estuaries of South Africa

Montoya-Maya, P. H. (2009) Dynamics of larval fish and zooplankton in selected south and west coast estuaries of South Africa. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Larval fish and zooplankton assemblages were studied in nine south and west coast estuaries in the cool-temperate and the cool/warm-temperate boundary region between June 2003 and March 2004. This study served to provide new information on previously unstudied estuaries and expand on existing knowledge of larval fish and zooplankton assemblages associated with various estuary types. The south and west coast estuaries sampled in this study showed lower salinities (12.2 - 13.7), lower water temperatures (14.5 - 16.9 °C) and higher turbidities (k = 0.02 - 0.04) in winter and spring while higher salinities (21.7 - 21.8), higher water temperatures (21.7 - 23.1°C) and lower turbidities (k <0.02) were observed in summer and autumn. Mean winter and summer water temperatures in estuaries were lower than those observed in warm-temperate and subtropical systems by other researchers. A total of 49274 larval fishes were caught, comprising 9 orders, 20 families, 29 genera and 47 taxa. The clupeid Gilchristella aestuaria (78.8 %) dominated the larval fish assemblages and occurred in all estuaries. The majority (70 %) of identified species are endemic to southern Africa and 96.4 % of larval fishes caught were estuary-resident species. The zooplankton study yielded a total of 44 taxa, comprising 7 phyla, >20 orders and >35 families. The copepod Pseudodiaptomus hessei dominated (59 %) the zooplankton and occurred in similar densities to those observed in other South African estuaries. Larval fish and zooplankton varied across seasons, peaking simultaneously in summer although zooplankton showed additional density peaks during the closed phase of some estuaries. Both plankton components were more abundant in the oligohaline and mesohaline zones within the estuaries. Freshwater input, estuary type and the biogeography of the area influenced the composition and structure of larval fish and zooplankton assemblages in these estuaries. The findings suggest that the estuaries are functioning as successful breeding areas for the larvae of endemic estuary-resident fish species and that these estuaries have to be managed to ensure an adequate freshwater supply to maintain the biological integrity of the ecosystem, specially the maintenance of the highly productive River-Estuary Interface (REI) regions.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ichthyoplankton; zooplankton; estuary; cool temperature
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Ichthyology & Fisheries Science
Supervisors:Strydom, N. (Dr)
ID Code:1641
Deposited By: Nicolene Mvinjelwa
Deposited On:29 Apr 2010 13:47
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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