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Fisheries Behavioral Ecology - Abstracts

Stoner, A.W. and A.A. Abookire. 2002. Sediment preferences and size-specific distribution of young-of-the-year Pacific halibut in an Alaska nursery. Journal of Fish Biology 61:540-559.


A combination of laboratory experiments and field surveys was used to test the hypotheses that responses to sediments change with fish size and that sediment grain-size is the predominant environmental factor affecting small-scale distribution in young-of-the-year (yoy) Pacific halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis. Laboratory tests showed that the smallest fish (31–40 mm LT) chose fine sediments (muddy and fine sands), fish 51–70 mm had high selectivity (primarily medium sand), and the largest fish (80–150 mm) were not selective although they avoided the largest grain-sizes (pebbles and granules). Sediment preferences were correlated with size-dependent burial capabilities. Beam trawl collections were made over a 6 year period in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, to examine the distribution of yoy Pacific halibut (14–120 mm LT) using small size classes (e.g. 10 mm intervals). Canonical correlation analysis showed that the per cent of sand in the sediment was a highly significant variable for all but one size and date combination. Catch per unit of effort (CPUE) for newly settled fish (<30 mm LT) was highest on very fine sand, fish 41–80 mm were most abundant on fine sand, and the largest yoy fish (81–120 mm) were abundant over a range of sediments from fine sand to mud. Except for the smallest fish, Pacific halibut in the field were associated with sediments somewhat finer than predicted from the laboratory experiments; however, virtually all were captured where they could bury easily. The ability of flatfish to bury and shelter in sediment is related to fish size; consequently, habitat associations shift rapidly during the first year of life. Habitat models for yoy flatfishes should consider size-dependent shifts in capabilities and preferences.


Last updated 31 March, 2009

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