Hypoxia-driven changes in the behavior and spatial distribution of pelagic fish and mesozooplankton in the northern Gulf of Mexico

Hongyan Zhang, Stuart Ludsin, Doran Mason, Aaron Adamack, Stephen Brandt, Xinsheng Zhang, David Kimmel, Michael Roman, William Boicourt

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Abstract

Hypoxia (< 2 mg O2 l− 1) is a major global water quality and fisheries management issue in coastal ecosystems. Although the impact of hypoxia on benthic communities has been intensively studied, less is known about hypoxia's effect on pelagic communities. Herein, we explored how hypoxia can influence the horizontal and vertical distribution of pelagic fish, as well as their overlap with mesozooplankton prey in the northern Gulf of Mexico, an area with extensive seasonal hypoxia. Using an undulating Scanfish sensor package (with CTD and optical plankton counter) towed in parallel with a split-beam acoustics system, we simultaneously collected water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, mesozooplankton biomass, and relative fish biomass density data along transects (day and night) during 2003, 2004, and 2006. We used spatial analytical techniques to account for intercorrelation and spatial autocorrelation in data and to discern patterns in the distribution of pelagic organisms. We observed low fish biomass in hypoxic waters, with fish aggregating horizontally at the edges of hypoxic areas. Fish also aggregated immediately above hypoxic bottom waters, but only during years of severe hypoxia. Spatial overlap between fish biomass and mesozooplankton biomass was high during mild hypoxia, but reduced during years of severe hypoxia. Consistent with other coastal systems such as Chesapeake Bay and the Neuse River Estuary, our findings ultimately suggest that hypoxia can reduce the availability of quality habitat for zooplanktivorous fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico by reducing access to bottom habitat and mesozooplankton prey.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-91
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Volume381
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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pelagic fish
behavior change
hypoxia
Gulf of Mexico
spatial distribution
fish
biomass
gulf
Chesapeake Bay
habitat quality
habitats
autocorrelation
fishery management
fisheries management
bottom water
dissolved oxygen
analytical methods
benthos
plankton
acoustics

Cite this

Zhang, Hongyan ; Ludsin, Stuart ; Mason, Doran ; Adamack, Aaron ; Brandt, Stephen ; Zhang, Xinsheng ; Kimmel, David ; Roman, Michael ; Boicourt, William. / Hypoxia-driven changes in the behavior and spatial distribution of pelagic fish and mesozooplankton in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 2009 ; Vol. 381. pp. 80-91.
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abstract = "Hypoxia (< 2 mg O2 l− 1) is a major global water quality and fisheries management issue in coastal ecosystems. Although the impact of hypoxia on benthic communities has been intensively studied, less is known about hypoxia's effect on pelagic communities. Herein, we explored how hypoxia can influence the horizontal and vertical distribution of pelagic fish, as well as their overlap with mesozooplankton prey in the northern Gulf of Mexico, an area with extensive seasonal hypoxia. Using an undulating Scanfish sensor package (with CTD and optical plankton counter) towed in parallel with a split-beam acoustics system, we simultaneously collected water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, mesozooplankton biomass, and relative fish biomass density data along transects (day and night) during 2003, 2004, and 2006. We used spatial analytical techniques to account for intercorrelation and spatial autocorrelation in data and to discern patterns in the distribution of pelagic organisms. We observed low fish biomass in hypoxic waters, with fish aggregating horizontally at the edges of hypoxic areas. Fish also aggregated immediately above hypoxic bottom waters, but only during years of severe hypoxia. Spatial overlap between fish biomass and mesozooplankton biomass was high during mild hypoxia, but reduced during years of severe hypoxia. Consistent with other coastal systems such as Chesapeake Bay and the Neuse River Estuary, our findings ultimately suggest that hypoxia can reduce the availability of quality habitat for zooplanktivorous fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico by reducing access to bottom habitat and mesozooplankton prey.",
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author = "Hongyan Zhang and Stuart Ludsin and Doran Mason and Aaron Adamack and Stephen Brandt and Xinsheng Zhang and David Kimmel and Michael Roman and William Boicourt",
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Hypoxia-driven changes in the behavior and spatial distribution of pelagic fish and mesozooplankton in the northern Gulf of Mexico. / Zhang, Hongyan; Ludsin, Stuart; Mason, Doran; Adamack, Aaron; Brandt, Stephen; Zhang, Xinsheng; Kimmel, David; Roman, Michael; Boicourt, William.

In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Vol. 381, 2009, p. 80-91.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Hypoxia-driven changes in the behavior and spatial distribution of pelagic fish and mesozooplankton in the northern Gulf of Mexico

AU - Zhang, Hongyan

AU - Ludsin, Stuart

AU - Mason, Doran

AU - Adamack, Aaron

AU - Brandt, Stephen

AU - Zhang, Xinsheng

AU - Kimmel, David

AU - Roman, Michael

AU - Boicourt, William

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N2 - Hypoxia (< 2 mg O2 l− 1) is a major global water quality and fisheries management issue in coastal ecosystems. Although the impact of hypoxia on benthic communities has been intensively studied, less is known about hypoxia's effect on pelagic communities. Herein, we explored how hypoxia can influence the horizontal and vertical distribution of pelagic fish, as well as their overlap with mesozooplankton prey in the northern Gulf of Mexico, an area with extensive seasonal hypoxia. Using an undulating Scanfish sensor package (with CTD and optical plankton counter) towed in parallel with a split-beam acoustics system, we simultaneously collected water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, mesozooplankton biomass, and relative fish biomass density data along transects (day and night) during 2003, 2004, and 2006. We used spatial analytical techniques to account for intercorrelation and spatial autocorrelation in data and to discern patterns in the distribution of pelagic organisms. We observed low fish biomass in hypoxic waters, with fish aggregating horizontally at the edges of hypoxic areas. Fish also aggregated immediately above hypoxic bottom waters, but only during years of severe hypoxia. Spatial overlap between fish biomass and mesozooplankton biomass was high during mild hypoxia, but reduced during years of severe hypoxia. Consistent with other coastal systems such as Chesapeake Bay and the Neuse River Estuary, our findings ultimately suggest that hypoxia can reduce the availability of quality habitat for zooplanktivorous fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico by reducing access to bottom habitat and mesozooplankton prey.

AB - Hypoxia (< 2 mg O2 l− 1) is a major global water quality and fisheries management issue in coastal ecosystems. Although the impact of hypoxia on benthic communities has been intensively studied, less is known about hypoxia's effect on pelagic communities. Herein, we explored how hypoxia can influence the horizontal and vertical distribution of pelagic fish, as well as their overlap with mesozooplankton prey in the northern Gulf of Mexico, an area with extensive seasonal hypoxia. Using an undulating Scanfish sensor package (with CTD and optical plankton counter) towed in parallel with a split-beam acoustics system, we simultaneously collected water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, mesozooplankton biomass, and relative fish biomass density data along transects (day and night) during 2003, 2004, and 2006. We used spatial analytical techniques to account for intercorrelation and spatial autocorrelation in data and to discern patterns in the distribution of pelagic organisms. We observed low fish biomass in hypoxic waters, with fish aggregating horizontally at the edges of hypoxic areas. Fish also aggregated immediately above hypoxic bottom waters, but only during years of severe hypoxia. Spatial overlap between fish biomass and mesozooplankton biomass was high during mild hypoxia, but reduced during years of severe hypoxia. Consistent with other coastal systems such as Chesapeake Bay and the Neuse River Estuary, our findings ultimately suggest that hypoxia can reduce the availability of quality habitat for zooplanktivorous fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico by reducing access to bottom habitat and mesozooplankton prey.

KW - Acoustics

KW - Anoxia

KW - CART

KW - Dead zone

KW - Mantel test

KW - Spatial autocorrelation.

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JO - Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

JF - Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

SN - 0022-0981

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