Species profiles: life histories and environmental requirements (Gulf of Mexico) -- Gulf menhaden




Lassuy, Dennis R.

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National Coastal Ecosystems Team, Division of Biological Services, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior


Species profiles are literature summaries of the taxonomy, morphology, range, life history, and environmental requirements of coastal aquatic species. They are prepared to assist in environmental impact assessment. The gulf menhaden, Brevoortia patronus, supports the largest fishery (by weight) in the United States; 779, 390 mt were landed in 1979. Larval, juvenile, and adult menhaden are important prey for many fishes and birds. The species lives in estuaries and in the Gulf of Mexico to a maximum depth of about 70 m. Spawning takes place in the Gulf of Mexico from September to May and larvae are carried into estuaries within 3-5 weeks after hatching. Larvae inhabit the shallow marshy parts of estuaries and feed on microzooplankton. Larvae metamorphose into juveniles which are omnivorous filter feeders. As they grow, juveniles move from shallow parts of estuaries to deeper areas. Juveniles and adults migrate to the Gulf of Mexico as temperatures drop in the fall. Adults become sexually mature after two growing seasons. They have been collected in a temperature range of 5- 34.9 degrees C and a salinity range of 0-67 ppt. Larvae and juveniles tolerate lower salinities than adults.


13 pgs.


Gulf menhaden, Brevoortia patronus, fish, estuaries, growth, feeding, life history, spawning, environmental factors, menhaden, aquatic ecology, fish habitat improvement