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

Faunal Composition and Distribution of Pelagic Larval Flatfishes (Teleostei: Pleuronectiformes) in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Connectivity Between Coastal and Oceanic Ecosystems

Event Name/Location

2015 Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Reno, Nevada, July 15-19, 2015

Presentation Date


Document Type



Pleuronectiformes (flatfishes) occur throughout the global oceans, and have high ecological and commercial importance in some areas. Though much is known regarding life history, abundance, and distribution for the benthic adult stages of flatfish species, much less is known about the pelagic larval and juvenile phases of flatfishes in the open ocean. Taxonomic uncertainty and limited sampling in the oceanic Gulf of Mexico have led to data gaps with respect to the distribution of early life history stage flatfishes in this region. Pleuronectiform specimens collected during six cruises in the northern Gulf of Mexico from 2010-2011, as part of the NOAA Offshore Nekton Sampling and Analysis Program, were quantified and identified to lowest taxonomic category. Results of the first large-scale distributional analysis of pleuronectiform larvae and juveniles in the northern oceanic Gulf of Mexico will be presented. During the M/V Meg Skansi 7 (April - June 2011) and NOAA FRV Pisces 10 (June - July 2011) cruises, 566 flatfish specimens were collected, representing four families and ten genera. Species composition was dominated by Bothus spp. at 78%, Trichopsetta ventralis at 9%, and Citharichthys sp. at 5% - the remaining seven genera comprised less than three percent each. With respect to vertical distribution, discrete-depth sampling revealed that 56% of specimens occurred between 0 and 200 m, 15% between 200 and 600 m, < 10% between 600 and 1000 m, 15% between 1000 and 1200 m, and < 10% between 1200 and 1500 m.


Session: General Ichthyology I