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The effects of proximity to a subtidal channel on habitat utilization of intertidal oyster reefs

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephen J. Artabane (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Advisor
Martin Posey

Abstract: Habitat use may differ with certain landscape characteristics such as patch quality and size, the presence of corridors, the connectivity of the landscape, and proximity to other habitats. In estuarine systems, intertidal oyster reefs are an important habitat whose functions may be explained by landscape theories. Proximity to other structured habitat has been shown to affect utilization of oyster reefs by both resident and transient species. Reef proximity to subtidal channels and upper intertidal areas, the source areas for transient and resident fauna, respectively, may be an important factor affecting reef utilization. This study tested whether proximity to subtidal channels influenced utilization of intertidal oyster reefs and whether microhabitat utilization varied within reef edge areas. Enhanced densities of finfish and decapods were seen around reefs at all distances compared with unstructured sandflats. Total abundances were higher over the reef interface (sand edges) compared to over shell, however smaller individuals of dominant species (juvenile Lagodon rhomboides and juvenile Leiostomus xanthurus) were found using reef interior shell to a greater extent than larger individuals, which used sand edge and sandflat areas. Reef residents showed no variation in abundance based on distance from a channel. Fundulus heteroclitus and larval L. rhomboides were the only transient species to show a distance effect, with higher abundances at reefs nearest the subtidal channel. Certain infaunal taxa were more abundant closer to channel, and total infaunal abundance was lower around reefs compared with sandflat areas in August 2005. Results indicate continuous use of reefs during tidal submergence by transients and few distance effects on associated fauna. Although patch location may not be an important consideration for restoration and management of intertidal oyster reefs over the scale examined, the presence of reefs provides habitat for associated fauna between subtidal channels and higher intertidal areas.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Science
Language: English
Date: 2009
Keywords
Estuarine animals--Habitat--North Carolina, Oysters--Ecology--North Carolina, Oysters--Habitat--North Carolina
Subjects
Oysters -- Habitat -- North Carolina
Oysters -- Ecology -- North Carolina
Estuarine animals -- Habitat -- North Carolina