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A Baseline Study of Fish Assemblages in a Pristine Georgia EstuarySt Catherine’s Island is one of Georgia’s uninhabited barrier islands, and is used strictly for research and conservation purposes. It is approximately seven miles from the mainland, and eighteen miles from the Altamaha River. Due to its location, the surrounding estuary has seen negligible anthropogenic impacts throughout its history. Brunsen Creek, on the southern end of the island, is isolated and considered to be a pristine marine ecosystem. This study is a continuation of an initial 2014 study to collect baseline monthly ichthyofaunal data via trawling. Data presented here contains summary information collected through August 2016. Information collected during this period will provide baseline data for fish assemblage comparisons within the surrounding Georgia estuarine ecosystem. Statistical relationships between Brunsen Creek fish assemblages and environmental factors, such as temperature and salinity, were not established. However, consistent relationships were observed in natural migration and reproduction patterns of key fishes that have also been noted in other studies. Temporal trends among the targeted species in this study reflect a well-established natural pattern along the Georgia coast. Following these trends will provide a baseline of expected life history events, and a reference for further research within southeastern estuaries.
Fish Assemblages in Brunsen Creek on St. Catherines Island, GASt. Catherines Island, in Liberty County, is one of Georgia’s uninhabited barrier islands. Due to its location approximately seven miles from the mainland and thirty miles from the Savannah River, the surrounding estuary has seen negligible anthropogenic impacts throughout its history. Specifically, Brunsen Creek, on its southern end, is considered to contain a pristine marine ecosystem. This study was initiated to provide baseline data for the surrounding Georgia estuarine ecosystems, many of which have had human impacts. Ichthyofaunal data was collected monthly within Brunsen Creek via trawling from September 2014 through August 2015, and will continue for the immediate future. Fishes collected show consistent relationships in natural migration and reproduction that have also been noted in other studies. Temporal trends in the appearance of fishes in Brunsen Creek samples, and their increasing lengths, reflect a well-established natural pattern along Georgia’s coast. Tracking these trends will provide a baseline of expected life history events for several species and a reference for further research within southeastern estuaries. Funding Source: Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, Department of Biological Sciences and Museum of National History