Scientia Marina, Vol 72, No 3 (2008)

Mudflat nekton assemblages in the Tagus estuary (Portugal): distribution and feeding patterns


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.2008.72n3591

Susana França
Instituto de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Miguel A. Pardal
IMAR – Institute of Marine Research, Department of Zoology, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Henrique N. Cabral
Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Abstract


Mudflats are an important component of estuaries, where they may occupy large areas and provide feeding and nursery grounds for many fish and bird species, as in the Tagus estuary. However, knowledge on their role and functioning is still expanding. Spatial and temporal dynamics of nekton assemblages in a mudflat of the Tagus estuary were evaluated to determine their role in the estuarine functioning. Feeding activity and daily rations of the most important nekton species are also analyzed. Two intertidal mudflat areas (upper and lower) were sampled, as well as the adjoining subtidal area. Sampling was conducted every two months, during a yearly cycle. A 24 h sampling cycle was conducted to investigate daily feeding patterns and determine daily rations. Crangon crangon, Carcinus maenas, Palaemon longirostris, Palaemon serratus and Pomatoschistus microps dominated the nekton community. A marked seasonal pattern was noticed with the highest densities recorded in spring and summer, corresponding to recruitment episodes of these species. Highest biomass values were recorded in the subtidal zone, while the highest densities were recorded in the intertidal zone. The mudflats seem to play an important role in the dynamics of the Tagus estuary, acting as a feeding and nursery areas for several nektonic species.

Keywords


nekton; community structure; daily rations; mudflat; intertidal areas; Tagus estuary

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