POPULATION ECOLOGY OF SPOT (LEIOSTOMUS XANTHURUS) IN THE MARYLAND COASTAL BAYS
Kasondra Rubalcava1, Paulinus Chigbu2.
1Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA, 2University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD.
Spot (Leiostomus xanthurus), a saltwater fish belonging to the family Sciaenidae, is found in estuaries and coastal waters along the eastern coast of United States, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. Spot support significant commercial harvests concentrated along the Atlantic coast of the United States from the Chesapeake Bay through the Carolinas. Because of their abundance, spot are considered to be ecologically important, influencing the structure and function of estuarine systems. The Maryland Coastal Bays Trawl and Seine Survey (MCBTSS) collected data from 1990 to 2012 to monitor the spot population. The MCBTSS sampled with a bottom trawl in 20 different sites across the five coastal bays once a month. Because the weight of each fish was not previously collected, we are using a length-weight relationship to convert the length of each fish into weight so we can calculate the biomass of each bay. This study aims to understand ecological dynamics of spot in Maryland’s coastal bays and to determine recruitment and biomass patterns as a response to seasonal environmental conditions. The results from this research will be used as resource for commercial and recreational fisheries as well as being a useful tool for conservation efforts because it can give an overall view of the survival ability of populations.