Recruitment and spawning-stock biomass distribution of bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli) in Chesapeake Bay


Jung, Sukgeun, and Edward D. Houde
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Recruitment of bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli) in Chesapeake is related to variability in hydrological conditions and to abundance and spatial distribution of spawning stock biomass (SSB). Midwater-trawl surveys conducted for six years, over the entire 320-km length of the bay, provided information on anchovy SSB, annual spatial patterns of recruitment, and their relationships to variability in the estuarine environment. SSB of anchovy varied sixfold in 1995–2000; it alone explained little variability in young-of-the-year (YOY) recruitment level in October, which varied ninefold. Recruitments were low in 1995 and 1996 (47 and 31 x 10 9) but higher in 1997–2000 (100 to 265 x 10 9). During the recruitment process the YOY population migrated upbay before a subsequent fall-winter downbay migration. The extent of the downbay migration by maturing recruits was greatest in years of high freshwater input to the bay. Mean dissolved oxygen (DO) was more important than freshwater input in controlling distribution of SSB and shifts in SSB location between April–May (prespawning) and June–August (spawning) periods. Recruitments of bay anchovy were higher when mean DO was lowest in the downbay region during the spawning season. It is hypothesized that anchovy recruitment level is inversely related to mean DO concentration because low DO is associated with high plankton productivity in Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, low DO conditions may confine most bay anchovy spawners to the downbay region, where production of larvae and juveniles is enhanced. A modified Ricker stock-recruitment model indicated density-compensatory recruitment with respect to SSB and demonstrated the importance of spring-summer DO levels and spatial distribution of SSB as controllers of bay anchovy recruitment.