Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Trophic Dynamics and Ecosystem Changes within the SE Florida Coastal Pelagic Fish Community

Event Name/Location

32nd Annual Meeting of the Florida Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Altoona, Florida, February 21-23, 2012

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding




The waters off the southeast coast of Florida are home to a unique pelagic and coastal pelagic ecosystem. The objective of this research project is to investigate and achieve a greater understanding of coastal pelagic fishes, with an emphasis on the higher order species that inhabit the mid-range coastal pelagic to true pelagic waters, and the ecological role they play within the community ecology of the pelagic ecosystem. The selected fish species includes King Mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), Blackfin Tuna (Thunnus atlanticus), Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), Atlantic Bonito (Sarda sarda), Little Tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus), Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri), Greater Amberjack (Seroila dumerili), and Dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus). These species were selected based on their position as upper trophic level predators in the marine ecosystem food web and their general habitat distribution in the coastal pelagic zone. In the two year period between March 2010 and March 2012, approximately 420 fish from the 11 species have been sampled. The samples were collected opportunistically from recreational tournament anglers in the south Florida area between West Palm Beach and the Florida Keys. From each fish specimen sampled the stomach, gonads, blood, muscle tissue, and liver tissue was collected for further analysis. Morphometric data for each specimen was also recorded. A stable isotope analysis was performed with the muscle tissue and blood samples using carbon δ13C and nitrogen δ15N for trophic analysis. A gut content analysis was performed with the frequency of occurrence and percent composition by weight approaches used for quantitative description of the analysis. The gut content analysis is performed and compared to the stable isotope analysis to further understand the trophic interactions and trophic position among the coastal pelagic community. The preliminary results of the stomach content and stable isotope analysis from year 1 and year 2 of sampling is being presented.

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