A study of the ecology and distribution of the stromateoid ichthyofauna, in relation to the meso-scale physical oceanographic features in the Gulf of Mexico

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Marine Biology and Fisheries

First Committee Member

William Richards - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

C. Richard Robins - Committee Member


Annual ichthyoplankton survey data was analyzed from 1983-1988 for stromateoid larvae. Four species were abundant enough for meaningful analysis, Cubiceps pauciradiatus, Ariomma melanum, Peprilus alepidotus, and Peprilus burti. Significant positive correlation was found between distribution and abundance of larval Cubiceps pauciradiatus, and the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico. The data indicates that C. Pauciradiatus is a species whose adult spawning grounds and larval habitat are tied to sharp temperature gradients. Transects made across the Loop Current, in 1987 and 1988, indicate that larval C. pauciradiatus are found close to the frontal interface with peak abundance occurring before peak sea surface temperature (SST).Variation in the extent of the frontal systems in the Gulf of Mexico would be expected to impact annual recruitment of a species tied to a frontal habitat. Annual abundance of C. Pauciradiatus varied considerably but was similar to other pelagic species. Ariomma melanum, a deep shelf species showed similar patterns of abundance. This suggests that the physical processes in the Gulf of Mexico may be affecting a wide range of species.The larval stages of Ariomma melanum are described from a series of specimens 2.0 mm to 24 mm SL. Larvae were found primarily in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Adults are also concentrated in this area, occurring at bottom depths that ranged from 225 m to 480 m.P. alepidotus larvae are concentrated in the shallow shelf waters of Texas and Louisiana. Spawning is primarily in the summer months with a peak in August. Average water depth where P. alepidotus were collected was 29 m.P. burti were more numerous and found in every month sampled except August. Peak abundance occurred in October/November. Larvae were concentrated east of the Mississippi River, in water depths that averaged 114 m.


Biology, Ecology; Biology, Oceanography

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