Statistical modeling of seasonal and environmental influences on the population dynamics of an estuarine fish community
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Marine biology. - Berlin
, p. 1033-1042
University of Antwerp
A statistical modeling study was performed on the population fluctuations of the 15 commonest fish species frequenting the tidal Scheldt estuary in Belgium. These included marine juvenile and seasonal visitors, estuarine residents and diadromous fish species that were recorded on the filter screens of a power plant cooling-water intake between September 1991 and April 2001. The species population abundance was regressed against a candidate set of 6 environmental variables and 13 instrumental variables, accounting for seasonality and long-term trends present in the data. Population abundances of the different species were, in general, best described by seasonal variables. Seasonal components contributed, on average, up to 63.8% of the variance explained by the models. Ten species were found to show a slightly negative, though significant, trend over the period of the survey. Most models also included at least one environmental variable, and 25.4% of the explained variance could be attributed to environmental fluctuations. Of all physico-chemical variables, dissolved oxygen was the most important predictor of fish abundance, suggesting that the estuary suffered from poor water quality during the survey. Temperature, salinity, freshwater flow, suspended solids and chlorophyll a concentrations were minor determinants of fish abundance.