Date of Award

Summer 1981

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Ray S. Birdsong

Committee Member

Harold G. Marshall

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden, III

Committee Member

Anthony J. Provenzano

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 C68


The seasonality of occurrence and relative abundance of larval and juvenile fishes, particularly members of the family Sciaenidae, from a Virginia seaside estuary were determined from ichthyoplankton and trawl collections made from March 1979 to March 1980.

The larvae of 20 species distributed among 15 families were identified from the ichthyoplankton. Larvae of the bay anchovy, Anchoa mitchilli, and the Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia, dominated the samples and made up 57 and 34%, respectively, of all larvae collected. Peak occurrence began in May and continued through August. Fish larvae were present in the study area all year.

Twenty-eight species distributed among 19 families were identified from trawl collections. Samples were dominated by juvenile sciaenids (6 species) which made up 68% of trawl collected individuals. Juvenile abundance peaked in September through December. Juvenile fishes were present in the study area all year.

Student's T-test and Pearson's Correlation analysis were employed to determine: 1) the reliability of the ichthyoplankton sampling gear, 2) the effect of measured physical parameters on the relative abundance of larvae and juveniles, and 3) differences in community structure in daytime versus nighttime collections and surface versus epibenthic collections.

Larvae and juveniles collected during this study were divisible into 5 ecological categories: I. resident seaside spawners, II. shelf spawners passively transported into the seaside estuaries, III. post larvae and juveniles actively seeking Virginia's seaside estuaries as nursery areas, IV. sub-tropical intruders, V. oligo- and mesohaline species occasionally taken in seaside estuaries.


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