The flume nets were deployed with the purpose of capturing salt marsh nekton. Nekton species were identified to the lowest taxonomic level using species keys. The TIDE project aims to simulate eutrophication on a large scale by the addition of NO3- aiming to reach 70μM concentrations from May to September every year during the growing season. This fertilization of the marsh has been going on at Sweeney Creek since the 2004 growing season through 2016 and at Clubhead Creek in 2005 and from 2009 till 2016. Years 2017-2020 are enrichment recovery years.
Locations: Sweeney (SW), West (WE), Clubhead (CL), and Nelson (NE)
Each year flume nets (3-4) were installed at roughly equal distances along each creek. The flume nets, installed perpendicularly to the creek channel, consisted of two sides and removable front and back panels. The 6mm mesh net side panels were dug into the marsh so that the marsh surface formed the bottom of the “flume” and attached to PVC stakes at either end. The front (cod end) of the flume was a 3m W x 1.5m H x 3m L conical shaped nylon mesh net that was anchored in the main creek channel to provide a low water refuge for nekton. The back panel was a 3m x 1.5m rectangular net attached to PVC stakes. The size and placement of the nets varied slightly in some years; 2003-2006 flume nets dimensions were 3m W x 10m L x 1.5m H the nets were placed at the creek edge in the low marsh tall Spartina alterniflora (TSA) and extended into the high marsh Spartina patens (SP); 2009-2010 flume nets were 2m W x 5 m L x 1.5 m H and placed in the high marsh (SP) habitat; 2011-2020 flume nets were 3m W x 10m L x 1.5m H and placed in the TSA at the creek edge.
Sampling Collection and Processing
All flume net collections occurred at night within 48 hrs of the monthly spring tide from June to September. Prior to sampling events the nets were lowered to ensure nekton could freely move in and out of the sampling area. At slack high tide teams quietly approached the nets and deployed them capturing any nekton inside the area of during high tide. As the tide fell nekton were funneled into the cod end where they were recovered at low tide. In the lab the nekton were identified to the lowest taxonomic level, measured to the nearest millimeter, and weighed to the nearest 0.01 grams. For fishes total length (TL) was measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the caudal fin. Shrimp TL was measured from the tip of the rostrum to the end of the tail. For crab species the carapace width was measured from its widest point.
From 2004-2006, as part of a series of experiments to understand the role of fish in food web controls, a barrier designed to prevent the movement of fish was installed in the right branch of SW and WE. The barrier was constructed of wood, PVC, and NITEX and entrenched into the creek bottom and side walls. Fish on the upstream side of the barricade were removed to create and artificially low density. Each year at the end of the season the fish blocks were removed and reinstalled in the spring of the next year. Denoted by LOW in the data.
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