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Ecology of coastal migratory striped bass (Morone saxatalis)

Project Leader:
Project Fellows:
Project Investigators:
Martha Mather, U. S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Gary Nelson, MA Dept. of Marine Fisheries
Jack Finn, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts
Joseph Smith, School of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Washington
Leina Weiss, University of Rhode Island

Striped bass are a priority species for the Northeast LCC.  Subadult and small adult (375–475 mm total length) striped bass Morone saxatilis are abundant in northern estuaries during the spring through late fall.  However, little is known about how this important marine fish migrate among estuaries and use salt marshes as foraging areas.  This project assesses the migratory pathways of striped bass and is developing a quantitative understanding of diet and habitat use. Both of these aspects are critical for managing this valuable marine fishery resource.Young striped bass were captured in July - Sept. in primary tidal creek channels, tagged weighed, and measured.  Stomach contents indicated they were feeding predomanately on marsh dependednt prey (shrimp, mummichogs).  Tissue samples were preserved for RNA estaimtes of growth rates.  

We have shown that striped bass show hot spots of abundance in estuarine areas. Some of these hotspots are the confluence of saltmarsh tidal creeks with larger tidal rivers.  In these locations the diets of striped bass indicate a high degree of dependance on nekton (fish and shrimp) species from saltmarshes. 

Information from this project is being used to understand the linkages between estuaries by populations of striped bass.


Baker, H.  2016. Quantifying striped bass, (Morone saxatilis) dependence on saltmarsh-derived productivity using stable isotope analysis.  Brown University, Undergraduate Thesis.