An account on the assemblage of fish larvae in Ponnani estuary, South India
Estuarine environments are one of the most dynamic aquatic ecosystems and serve many important functions in coastal waters. Larval fish dynamics contribute significantly to understanding the ecology of fish populations as they can indicate the spawning-stock biomass and recruitment in adult fish stocks. Initial development stages of fishes are particularly vulnerable and are influenced by physical and biological processes. Hence the present study was aimed to characterize ichthyoplankton assemblages, to evaluate environmental influence in its structure. Ponnani backwater fish larvae assemblages displayed a clear seasonal pattern presenting higher abundances and diversities during warmer months. Throughout the year there is a wide fluctuation in salinity, temperature and primary productivity in these backwaters enabling it to be classified under stressful environment for larval forms of certain economically important marine fishes. A detailed analysis made to study the interaction of selected environmental parameters with ichthyofaunal diversity in Ponnani backwater provided a clear understanding on the influence of these variables on the distribution of marine fish larvae in the region. The results of the present analysis provided a model for the prediction of larval diversity from the prevailing environmental parameters.
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