Senior Theses 2003
Jordan Sanford (2003). Recruitment, annual abundance, and
habitat associations of young-of-the-year striped mullet, Mugil
cephalus, in riverine systems of Tampa Bay, Florida,
Faculty advisor: William Szelistowski
Variations in recruitment, annual abundance, and habitat associations of young-of-the-year (YOY; 20 - 55-mm SL) striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, were examined in Alafia, Manatee, and Little Manatee rivers from 1996 to 2002. In all years, YOY mullet recruited into the rivers from December through April, with overall peak abundance occurring in February. Indices of abundance (arithmetic and least-squares-adjusted mean catch-per-unit-effort) of YOY striped mullet were compared in and among the three rivers by year. Environmental and physical variables associated with striped mullet abundance were examined in each river. Striped mullet abundance in the AlafiaRiver was significantly higher than that in the Little Manatee River, but not different from that in the ManateeRiver. When striped mullet abundance data from all rivers were combined, abundance in 1998 was higher than all other years except 2001. Annual indices of abundance did not show any increasing or decreasing trend over the seven-year period. Mullet were found more abundantly along riverine shorelines than in open waters of the bay. Habitat associations among the rivers were inconsistent, suggesting that YOY mullet occurred over a wide range of environmental and physical conditions. These findings provide fisheries managers with information on the abundance and habitat usage of young- of- the-year striped mullet in the years following Florida's 1995 restriction on entangling nets, and may help to establish a relationship between juvenile recruitment and adult abundance.