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Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates (Mid-Atlantic): Atlantic Menhaden

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Biological rept.

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Species profiles are literature summaries of the life history, distribution, and environmental requirements of coastal fishes and invertebrates. Profiles are prepared to assist with environmental impact assessment. The Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus is an important commercial fish along the Atlantic coast. In the South Atlantic Region, Atlantic menhaden spawn during winter in continental shelf waters. Adults then move inshore and northward in spring some move into estuaries as far as the brackish-freshwater boundary. Atlantic menhaden larvae in the South Atlantic Region enter estuaries after 1 to 3 months at sea. Young fish move into the shallow regions of estuaries and seem to prefer vegetated marsh habitats. Atlantic menhaden are size-selective plankton feeders as larvae, and filter feeders as juveniles and adults. Due to their large population size, individual growth rates, and seasonal movements, Atlantic menhaden annually consume and redistribute large amounts of energy and materials. They are also important prey for large game fishes such as bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix, striped bass Morone saxatilis, and bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus. The Atlantic menhaden is associated with estuarine and nearshore systems during all phases of its life cycles. Young menhaden require these food-rich habitats to survive and grow. Destruction of estuarine wetlands has decreased nursery habitat available to Atlantic menhaden and other estuarine-dependent species. AW

Subject Categories:

  • Biology
  • Biological Oceanography

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