• A Baseline Study of Fish Assemblages in a Pristine Georgia Estuary

      Hewett, Melissa; Ong, Claudia; McKittrick, Jacob; Sapp, Mikael; Thiruvaiyaru, Dharma; Sethuraman, Sankara; Moak, Jason; Saul, Bruce; Department of Biological Sciences (2017-03)
      St 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.