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Marsh-creek connectivity: Fish use of a tidal salt marsh in southern California

Marsh-creek connectivity: Fish use of a tidal salt marsh in southern California

Estuaries 23(5): 699-710

Salt marsh habitats influenced by southern California's mixed, semi-diurnal tides are, on average, accessible to fishes less than 16% of the time. However, five species (four natives, one exotic) and a variety of juvenile and adult size classes were collected on the marsh surface during a year-long sampling from June 1997 through June 1998 at Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge on San Diego Bay. Fundulus parvipinnis and Gillichthys mirabilis were the most abundant fish species using the marsh. Analyses of their guts revealed that the marsh surface provides a rich foraging area for fishes on high spring tides. F. parvipinnis with marsh access consumed six times as much food as fishes restricted to creek habitats (on a g-food g-fish-1 basis) and also fed on additional prey types. Because the salt marsh is an important foraging area for fishes, we recommend that restoration projects (especially those intended to mitigate lost fish habitat) include vegetated areas with interconnecting tidal creeks.

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Accession: 010957899

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DOI: 10.2307/1352896

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