2002 Progress Report: Natural Biogeochemical Tags of Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus, Estuarine Nursery Areas in the North Central Gulf of Mexico

EPA Grant Number: R827072C031
Subproject: this is subproject number 031 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827072
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES)
Center Director: Shipp, Robert L.
Title: Natural Biogeochemical Tags of Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus, Estuarine Nursery Areas in the North Central Gulf of Mexico
Investigators: Patterson, William F. , Cowan, James H. , Rainosek, Alvin P.
Institution: University of South Alabama , Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: July 1, 2001 through December 31, 2002 (Extended to June 30, 2003)
Project Period Covered by this Report: July 1, 2001 through December 31, 2002
RFA: Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES) (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research


The objective of this research project is to develop natural tags of juvenile striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, in the north-central Gulf of Mexico (GOM) based on otolith elemental (e.g., Ba, Ca, K, Mg, Mn, Na, and Sr) and stable isotope (C, N, and O) signatures unique to their natal estuaries. We have collected juvenile mullet from estuaries located in four areas of the north-central GOM (see Figure 1), and we are developing natural tags of each area based on analyses of otolith chemical composition performed by high resolution-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (HR-ICP-MS) and isotope ratio-mass spectrometry (IR-MS). Previous studies have demonstrated that drainage basins, hydrographic linkages, and water chemical compositions are different among, and similar within, these four areas. Therefore, we expect to find significant differences in the chemical signatures of juvenile mullet otoliths from different natal habitats in the north-central GOM. In future studies, we will employ developed natural tags to estimate estuarine site fidelity of adult mullet, connectivity among north-central GOM mullet populations, and estuarine-specific contributions to the offshore spawning stock in winter.

Progress Summary:

Juvenile mullet were collected from estuaries around the north-central GOM from late May through early July in 2001 and in 2002 (see Table 1, Figure 1). Sagittal otoliths were extracted from each fish and prepared for elemental analyses with HR-ICP-MS and IR-MS. Preliminary analyses of otolith chemistry by HR-ICP-MS indicated that concentrations of several elements are estimable at levels significantly higher than detection limits (e.g., Ba, Ca, K, Mg, Mn, Na, and Sr). Otolith concentrations of stable isotopes of Sr (86Sr, 87Sr, and 88Sr) also appear to be estimable with HR-ICP-MS.

Table 1. Sample Sites and Sample Sizes of Juvenile Mullet Collected in Spring 2001

2001 Stations
2001 Sample Sites
2002 Stations
2002 Sample Sites

Figure 1. Estuarine Systems Sampled for Juvenile Mullet in Spring 2001 and 2002

Figure 2. Standard Length Frequency Distributions of Juvenile Striped Mullet Sampled in 2001 and 2002

Future Activities:

Future activities are to continue analyses to determine otolith elemental and stable isotope signatures. This will proceed during winter 2003. Quality control of elemental and stable isotope analyses will be assured by running multiple replicates of each sample (n = 7 for HR-ICP-MS, and n = 2 for IR-MS). For HR-ICP-MS analyses, blanks will be prepared to estimate detection limits (mean blank ± s.e.) for each element, and percent recovery will be estimated for a subset of samples with the method of standard addition. Additionally, matrix effects and instrument drift will be estimated and corrected using a standard reference material currently being developed for otolith chemical analyses by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For IR-MS analyses, isotopic composition of otoliths will be reported as delta values relative to reference standards that concurrently run with samples.

Supplemental Keywords:

striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, Gulf of Mexico, GOM, high resolution-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, HR-ICP-MS, isotope ratio-mass spectrometry, IR-MS, Sagittal otoliths, ecosystem, ecosystem protection, ecology, ecological effects, ecological indicators, environmental exposure, geographic area, water, aquatic ecosystem, coastal ecosystem, coastal environments, estuary, estuaries, estuarine research, estuarine waters, environmental chemistry, chemistry, chemical engineering, risk, assessment, indicators, Alabama, AL, human modifications, fishery sampling., RFA, Scientific Discipline, ECOSYSTEMS, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, estuarine research, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, exploratory research environmental biology, Restoration, Aquatic Ecosystem, Aquatic Ecosystems, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Ecological Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, coastal ecosystem, eutrophication, nursery habitats, water use, mugil cephalus, estuaries, watersheds, fish, nutrients, striped mullet, biomass, fisheries, aquatic plants, isotope ratio mass spectrometry, algal blooms, submerged aquatic vegetation, ecosystem, environmental indicators, estuarine waters, water quality

Relevant Websites:

http://www.southalabama.edu/aces/ Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R827072    Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R827072C001 Fluorescent Whitening Agents As Facile Pollution Markers In Shellfishing Waters
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    R827072C003 Stabilization of Eroding Shorelines in Estuarine Wave Eliminates with Constructed Fringe Wetlands Incorporating Offshore Breakwaters
    R827072C004 Interaction Between Water Column Structure and Reproduction in Jellyfish Populations Of Mobile Bay (SGER)
    R827072C005 Effects of Variation in River Discharge and Wind-Driven Resuspension on Higher Trophic Levels in the Mobile Bay Ecosystem
    R827072C006 Results of Zooplankton Component
    R827072C007 Benthic Study Component
    R827072C008 A Preliminary Survey of Macroalgal and Aquatic Plant Distribution in the Mobile Tensaw Delta
    R827072C009 Fisheries-induced changes in the structure and function of shallow water "nursery habitats": an experimental assessment
    R827072C010 Effects Of Variation in River Discharge and Wind-Driven Resuspension on Lower Trophic Levels of the Mobile Bay Ecosystem
    R827072C011 Evaluation of Alabama Estuaries as Developmental Habitat for Juvenile Sea Turtles
    R827072C012 Effects of Salinity Stress on Natural and Anthropogenically-Derived Bacteria in Estuarine Environments
    R827072C013 The Role of Land-Use/Land-Cover and Sub-estuarine Ecosystem Nitrogen Cycling in the Regulation of Nitrogen Delivery to a River Dominated Estuary; Mobile Bay, Alabama
    R827072C014 Environmental Attitudes of Alabama Coastal Residents: Public Opinion Polls and Environmental Policy
    R827072C015 Synthesis and Characterization of an Electrochemical Peptide Nucleic Acid Probe
    R827072C016 Determinants of Small-Scale Variation in the Abundance of the Blue Crab Callinectes Sapidus
    R827072C017 Effects of Estrogen Pollution on the Reproductive Fitness of the Gulf Pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli
    R827072C019 A Model for Genetic Diversity Aquatic Insects of the Mobile/Tensaw River Delta
    R827072C020 Evaluating Trophic Processes as Indicators of Anthropogenic Eutrophication in Coastal Ecosystems: An Exploratory Analysis
    R827072C021 Effects of Anthropogenic Eutrophication on the Magnitude and Trophic Fate of Microphytobenthic Production in Estuaries
    R827072C022 Characteristics of Ship Waves and Wind Waves in Mobile Bay
    R827072C023 Methods Comparison Between Stripping Voltammetry and Plasma Emission Spectroscopy for Metals in Mobile Bay
    R827072C024 Changes in Water Conditions and Sedimentation Rates Associated With Construction of the Mobile Bay Causeway
    R827072C025 Cold-Induced Hibernation of Marine Vibrios in the Gulf of Mexico: A Study of Cell-Cell Communication and Dormancy in Vibrio vulnificus
    R827072C026 Holocene Sedimentary History of Weeks Bay, AL: Human and Natural Impacts on Deposition in a Gulf Coast Estuary
    R827072C027 Shelter Bottlenecks and Self-Regulation in Blue Crab Populations: Assessing the Roles of Nursery Habitats and Juvenile Interactions for Shelter Dependent Organisms
    R827072C028 Predicting Seagrass Survival in Nutrient Enriched Waters: Toward a New View of an Existing Paradigm
    R827072C029 DMSP and its Role as an Antioxidant in the Salt Marsh Macrophyte Spartina alterniflora
    R827072C030 A Preliminary Survey of Aerial and Ground-Dwelling Insects of the Mobile/Tensaw Delta
    R827072C031 Natural Biogeochemical Tags of Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus, Estuarine Nursery Areas in the North Central Gulf of Mexico
    R827072C032 Resolution of Sedimentation Rates in Impacted Coastal Environments Using 137Cs and 210Pb Markers: Dog River and Fowl River Embayments
    R827072C033 Investigation of the Use of Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) Fluorometry as an Indicator of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Health in Mobile Bay
    R827072C034 Influence of Invasive Plant Species in Determining Diversity of Aquatic Vegetation in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta
    R827072C035 The Influence of Shallow Water Hydrodynamics on the Importance of Seagrass Detritus in Estuarine Food Webs
    R827072C036 Food Web Interactions, Spatial Subsidies and the Flow of Energy Between the Mobile Bay Delta and Offshore Waters: A SGER Proposal to the Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies
    R830651C001 Meteorological Modeling of Hurricanes and Coastal Interactions: A Stability Study For Vertical Pressure Levels
    R830651C002 Characterization of Glycoprotein Cues Used by the Parasitic Rhizocephalan Barnacle Loxothylacus texanus To Identify Its Blue Crab Host, Callinectes sapidus
    R830651C003 Survey of Diamondback Terrapin Populations in Alabama Estuaries
    R830651C004 An Assessment of Environmental Contaminant Levels in Water and Dragonfly Larvae Tissues from the Mobile/Tensaw Delta