Establishing the Food Web Links between....
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GRANT NUMBER:  NA76FD0106           NMFS NUMBER:  96-NER-044

REPORT TITLE:  Establishing the Food Web Links between Estuaries and Nearshore Fisheries in New England

AUTHOR:  Edward Boynton and Linda Deegan

PUBLISH DATE:  August 3, 1999

AVAILABLE FROM:  National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Region, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.  TELEPHONE:  (978) 281-9267


This was a collaborative project between a Gloucester fisherman and a scientist from the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  The two objectives of this study were first to establish the food web link between the estuaries and the nearshore fisheries of Ipswich Bay and second to bridge the gap between fishermen and scientists by learning and understanding each other's work methods.  The project centered on sampling predetermined sites to ascertain the timing and magnitude of the migration of estuarine fish going into the nearshore waters of Ipswich Bay.  The study used stable isotopes to conclusively demonstrate the connection between forage fish and the estuary.   Environmental data of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll-a, water clarity, nutrients, and current flow were also examined to ascertain the trigger mechanisms of the migration.  Sampling for the project began in August 1997.  The first year had 18 sampling days using the F/V SISSEL B.  As the result of a time extension to the project, a second sampling season took place.  Sampling for the second year began in September 1998.  There were eight sampling days on the vessel and five additional beach seining days when winds exceeded the safe limits of work aboard the vessel.   All totaled, there were 31 sampling days for the project.  The Ecosystems Center at the MBL conducted the analysis of the samples collected during the project and provided a detailed report of its findings.  Briefly, the report stated that "comparison of abundance, timing, size and stable isotope value of Menidia menidia in estuary and offshore indicated that large quantities of fish move offshore in the fall.  The importance of Atlantic silversides as a forage fish for larger coastal fishes is well known.  This study demonstrates that Atlantic silversides may represent an important trophic link between marshes and offshore food webs."

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