The last ten weeks of summer has passed by within a blink of an eye, it’s hard to believe that I’ll be leaving in the morning. This REU has been a wonderful experience and has taught me so much about research in marine science. In just these few short weeks, I got to explore a wide number of ways to study and research fisheries that I know I can use throughout my career. In addition, I got to meet so many amazing people who I’m so glad to call my coworkers, friends, and family. No matter where our careers take us, I know we will remain close and I can’t wait to see how successful everyone will be in the future!
Since my last blog post, my project has changed a little bit to accommodate my results. Below is my abstract that describes my new project and a summary of what I found. In addition, below are the two maps I created of the distributions of Spotted Seatrout and Silver Perch in relation to the size of their spawning aggregations and habitat type.
The fish family Sciaenidae has developed a unique adaptation of vocalizing to communicate during the process of reproduction. Two species of fish in this family are present in the estuaries surrounding Port Aransas, Texas—Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) and Silver Perch (Bairdiella chrysoura). In these species, the male fish make vocalizations when they are actively spawning, releasing their sperm into the water column. In addition, both Silver Perch and Spotted Seatrout reproduce in spawning aggregations, or a dense gathering of fish that occurs when males and females alike are actively spawning at one time. These sites are important to study in particular because they are how most of the spawning in these fish species occurs and are vital to their reproductive success. We used passive acoustic technology to survey the surrounding bays of Port Aransas for spawning aggregations of Spotted Seatrout and Silver Perch. Once the fish were identified and quantified, I mapped the distribution of aggregations found during our sampling. I analyzed whether temperature, depth, salinity, and habitat type affect the presence of spawning aggregations for each species, as well as aggregations where both are present. Results found that temperature does affect the presence of spawning aggregations in both species and salinity was also found to have an effect on the likelihood of Spotted Seatrout and Silver Perch spawning together instead of in single-species aggregations. This study gives a greater understanding of where and how these two species of fish reproduce, which is important for ecological and conservation needs.