• FLATFISH ASSEMBLAGE AND ABUNDANCE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SAINT CATHERINES ISLAND AND SATILLA RIVER ESTUARIES

      Bickle, Abigail; Coleman, Alex; Brown, Jason; Thiruvaiyaru, Dharma; Sethuraman, Sankar; Department of Biological Sciences; Department of Mathematics; Reichmuth, Jessica; Saul, Bruce; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
      St. Catherines Island is a pristine uninhabited barrier island off of the Georgia coast, and is believed to have experienced less anthropogenic alteration when compared to mainland estuarine habitats. In contrast, the Satilla River estuary has been historically affected by human activity, especially during the construction of navigational "cuts" through the marsh in the early 1900s. These cuts were used to support economic gain no longer in the area. Because of the differences in human influence, we hypothesize the fish assemblages will be different. We compared abundance of various resident flatfish species captured when trawling and using gill nets in these two systems. As benthic species, flatfish may be especially affected by anthropogenic disturbances of the estuarine substrates. This study provides insight into the effects of human disturbances on benthic fish species populations and assemblages. We compared catch-per-unit effort for six flatfish species between data among several sites, seasonally, between 2015 and 2018. We also looked at environmental variables when comparing abundance. The data are reflective of differences that exist in resident flatfish populations, and this condition could be explained by anthropogenic activities.