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 Epipelagic Ecosystems

Event Name/Location

Fish at Night: An International Symposium, Miami, Florida, November 17-20, 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 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 seven cruises in the northern Gulf of Mexico from 2010 to 2011, as part of the Offshore Nekton Sampling and Analysis Program, were quantified and identified to lowest taxonomic category. Results of the first large-scale distributional analysis of larval Pleuronectiformes in this region will be presented, demonstrating how larval flatfishes are a consistent component of the oceanic ichthyofaunal composition. During the M/V Meg Skansi 7 survey, 467 flatfish specimens were collected, representing four families and ten genera. Species composition was dominated by Bothus spp., which increased in abundance more than two-fold from day to night, and had a high percent frequency in the epipelagic zone, occurring in 78% of all night and 61% of all day trawls. Trichopsetta ventralis and Citharichthys spp. were the second- and third-most abundant taxa, respectively. In regards to vertical distribution, discrete-depth sampling revealed that 87% of individuals collected occurred between 0 and 200 m, 7% between 200 and 1000 m, and 6% between 1000 and 1500 m.


Session: Larval Fish at Night