Fish assemblages in tidal and non-tidal freshwater tributaries of the Indian River Lagoon
   Jynessa Dutka-Gianelli, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission

Abstract: The estuarine habitats and freshwater tributaries of the Indian River Lagoon play an important role in the life histories of many fish species, including rare tropical peripheral species (tropical marine species that require freshwater habitats to complete their life cycle) and species classified by the FWC as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (SGCN). While the estuarine fish communities in the lagoon have been the focus of substantial and ongoing research, the adjacent freshwater rivers and tributaries have received little systematic survey. There have been no quantitative surveys of fish communities within the smaller non-tidal freshwater tributaries of the IRL that are located at substantial distances from ocean inlets (e.g., Crane Creek and Turkey Creek), and the importance of these systems to SGCN and peripheral species remains undetermined. Two objectives of this project are 1) To describe the overall composition, relative abundance, and distribution of fish communities within smaller tidal and non-tidal rivers and streams of the Indian River Lagoon; 2) To determine the relative resource value of these tidal and non-tidal coastal rivers and streams for SGCN and rare peripheral species along Florida’s east coast. The integration of biological, environmental, and habitat information from tidal and non-tidal freshwater tributaries of the Indian River Lagoon, when combined with historical data from multi-gear, multi-species monitoring efforts can be used to describe the distribution and habitat needs of rare and threatened species and promote effective management and conservation efforts. The sampling program will provide a better understanding of the resource value of smaller tidal and non-tidal tributaries to SGCN, as well as to overall fish communities in these poorly documented systems along Florida’s east coast. Sampling will be conducted using standardized FIM program methodologies. A combination of existing sampling gears (21.3-m center-bag seines) and newly adopted sampling gears (61-m center bag seines and electro-shocking gear) will be used monthly in the St. Sebastian River, Crane Creek and Turkey Creek. All individuals captured in net collections will be identified to the lowest practical taxonomic level. From each sample, up to 40 individuals of each fish species, selected invertebrate species, and turtle species will be randomly culled and measured (all remaining individuals will be counted). At each sampling location, water quality data, detailed habitat characteristics, and environmental conditions will be recorded.

Award Matching Funds Total
$88,827.00 $88,827.00 $177,654.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2006 6/1/2007 12/31/2009

Location: Brevard and Indian River Counties