Temporal and Spatial Trends in Fish Communities Inhabiting Two Freshwater Tidal Wetlands of the Cooper River, South Carolina

From April 1999 through February 2000, we electrofished fixed transects in two freshwater tidal wetlands of the Cooper River, South Carolina, to examine how spatial and temporal variation in these habitats influenced fish community composition. The Dean Hall site consisted of a collection of tidal creeks with intertidal, emergent vegetation and large fluctuations in submersed habitat due to tide. The Bonneau Ferry site was lacustrine, dominated by submergent vegetation, and fluctuated very little with the tide. We found 34 total species. Most were a species of Centrarchidae (41%) or an estuarine migrant (27%). Abundance and species richness varied among months, with a peak in April and June. Differences in fish community structures were noted between wetlands with Dean Hall generally containing a more specious, but variable, community whereas Bonneau Ferry contained a more stable fish community with slightly fewer species. Moreover, the Dean Hall fish community tended to be predominated more by Centrarchidae species whereas Bonneau Ferry contained more estuarine migratory species. Our results fill a void in the understanding of fish communities in southeastern U.S. wetlands by targeting the large-bodied fishes and add to the understanding of seasonal diversity in these systems. Moreover, our results underscore the need to study a diversity of wetland types to best discover fish community dynamics within a river system.

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