Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Joseph T. DeAlteris

Abstract

While the near shore marine environment has been demonstrated to be a productive habitat, little is known about this finfish resource in this habitat in the northeastern U.S. This is primarily due to the difficulties of sampling in this environment, high variability in fish distributions, and lack of a standardized sampling approach, so as to be able to compare different studies. The focus of this work is to better understand the ecology of the near shore marine finfish distribution in the northeastern U.S. This is accomplished through identifying the finfish species inhabiting the surf zone environment and providing a description of their distribution variability. These findings are compared to data from adjacent marine systems and are used to make general sampling recommendations for future monitoring of this resource. Additionally, the concept of a distinct transitional zone (TZ) joining the Acadian and Virginian provinces for the near shore marine demersal finfish assemblage is introduced. Both the role of Cape Cod as a zoographic boundary and the properties of the TZ are investigated by use of a biogeographical species ratio estimator, a quantitative measure for assessing species distributions and biogeographical boundaries. Finally, variability in finfish distribution related to tidal stage and short term migrations are investigated. These distribution characteristics are used to make sampling recommendations for both the dominant finfish species and the total finfish community.

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