Home > Explore Data & Reports > A Comparison of Animal Abundance and Distribution in Similar Habitats in Rookery Bay, Marco Island and Fakahatchee on the Southwest Coast of Florida 1971 – 1972

Citation:

Yokel, B.J. 2006. A Comparison of Animal Abundance and Distribution in Similar Habitats in Rookery Bay, Marco Island and Fakahatchee on the Southwest Coast of Florida 1971 – 1972. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 35 and University of Miami RSMAS Technical Report 2006-03. Silver Spring, MD. 137 pp.

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Description

The three areas in Rookery Bay, near Marco Island and Fakahatchee Bay were sampled from July 1971 through July 1972, and 1,006,640 individual animals were collected, of which the majority (55%) came from the Marco area. The large disparity between the catches at Marco and the remaining study areas was due mainly to the appearance of high numbers of species of polychaetes and echinoderms that were of very minor importance or absent from the catches in Rookery Bay and Fakahatchee Bay. When only the major classes of animals in the catch are considered (i.e., crustaceans, fish and mollusks) the total counts for Fakahatchee (298,830) and Marco (275,075) are quite comparable but both exceed Rookery Bay (119,388) by a considerable margin. The effects of the red tide outbreak in the summer of 1971 were apparently restricted to the Rookery Bay Sanctuary and may account for some of the observed differences. For the purposes of making controlled comparisons between the study areas, three common habitats were selected in each area so that a mud bottom habitat, a sand-shell bottom habitat and a vegetated bottom habitat were located in each of the study areas. Total catches by habitat types for crustaceans, fish and mollusks and certain of the more abundant species show clearly the overwhelming importance of the vegetated bottom as a habitat for animals. By habitat the vegetated areas had the most “indicator species” with five, the mud habitat was next with three and the sand-shell habitat third with two. Thus the vegetated habitat would be the best choice if a single habitat were to be used to detect environmental changes between study areas.

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