Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Engineering and Applied Science


Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major Professor

O'Connell, Martin T.

Second Advisor

Georgiou, Ioannis

Third Advisor

Franks, James S.

Fourth Advisor

Miner, Michael D.

Fifth Advisor

Barbe, Donald E.


Estuarine marshes are generally considered to be productive but not necessarily diverse ecosystems. During 24 consecutive months, I collected 65,000 fishes and decapods comprising over 65 species from the New Orleans Land Bridge, an estuarine salt marsh. My research details the distribution of nekton across five contiguous but geomorphically different regions, which I defined as “Areas”. This factor “Area” was significant in explaining community composition differences in 11 of the 24 months I evaluated. That is, during those 11 months community structure was different among the Areas. Specific “month” was also found to be a significant factor as community structure was found to differ among the months. No consistent abiotic factors were associated with community structure. These observations imply that a different set of factors are associated with community structure at the Area level than at the microhabitat level. Sampling of nekton in shallow estuarine salt marsh habitats was difficult. The cast net is a useful gear type for this type of sampling and can be readily standardized for each operator. Standardization of the area covered by the net allows density of collected nekton to be calculated. Little is known about the life cycle of one important estuarine dependent sport fish, tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), in southeastern Louisiana. This research details the presence of the major life stages of the species in Louisiana and suggests that it is capable of completing its life cycle in State waters. The presence of a spawning capable female and male tarpon is documented.


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