Date of Award

Fall 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Kent Carpenter

Committee Director

Cynthia M. Jones

Committee Member

Simon Thorrold

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 W37


Patterns of abundance, length, age, and growth of larval spot (Leiostomus xanthurus) were compared to assess the variability between spot larvae ingressing to two North Carolina inlets. The source of variability for the recruitment of larval fishes to estuarine nurseries has been linked to environmental stochasticity. Wind data and seasurface temperature satellite images were analyzed as two influential environmental variables that may help explain recruitment variability. As part of the South Atlantic Bight Recruitment Experiment (SABRE), spot larvae were collected between October 1994 and April 1995 as they recruited to Pamlico Sound through Oregon Inlet, located north of Cape Hatteras, and Ocracoke Inlet, located south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Spot larvae first recruited to Ocracoke Inlet in small numbers for approximately seven weeks before both inlets experienced peak abundance. Following this peak recruitment event, patterns of abundance between inlets rarely coincided. However, on any given collection date, the length and age of spot larvae recruiting each inlet was similar. Results from a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) indicate mean incremental otolith growth patterns between inlets were similar during early ages but significantly different in later ages. The initial similarities in otolith growth patterns suggest larvae recruiting to both inlets originated from the same population. Spot larvae are spawned and transported through warm shelf water but then are eventually subjected to colder coastal waters which influence their recruitment into different inlets. Winds from a northerly direction are an important mechanism for cross shelf-transport. However, the mechanisms influencing estuarine recruitment are more complex. Alongshore transport has received recent attention and appears to be important for larval spot recruitment at Oregon Inlet. Warm water filaments from the Gulf Stream are another potential mechanism used by spot larvae for recruitment. It is possible that adult spot travel and spawn with these warm water filaments as they move north. This behavior would help ensure larval recruitment to estuaries in the Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB).


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).