Characterization of the Surf Zone Macrofauna at Folly Beach, South Carolina
Wilkie, Jacquelyn M.
Harold, Antony S.
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The fish assemblage within the surf zone is widely variable consisting of a large number of individuals which represent a small number of species. Although a few species in the surf zone in the South Atlantic Bight have been well studied, data are lacking for most species, especially fishes. Many studies conducted within the surf zone have depicted snap shots of this dynamic community. The longest efforts have the duration of only a few years, which are incapable of depicting long term trends that may be associated with events such as decades of chronic beach renourishment and a rise in sea surface temperatures. This study conducted at Folly Beach is being used to evaluate long term changes to the macrofauna in the surf zone by comparing findings to a historic study conducted from 1969 to 1971. Data collected were analyzed to compare species richness and abundance between studies as well as between seasons. From July 2007 to March 2009, 83 hauls were pulled following a biweekly schedule. During this period, 1757 specimens were collected consisting of 109 swimming invertebrates and 1648 fishes. These organisms represented 38 species (10 invertebrate, 28 fishes), 30 genera (7 invertebrate, 23 fish) and 19 families (3 invertebrate, 16 fish). Species richness and abundance was significantly higher during the summer of 2007 than any other season sampled in this study. The number of species caught in each season was significantly lower than found in the previous study. The numbers caught were also significantly lower than in the previous study for every season except spring. These trends are primarily due to dramatic decreases in the numbers of previously dominant species.