Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity of Popular Sportfish in the Matagorda Bay System

Principal Investigator

The overall goal of this study is to evaluate the movement patterns, trace element concentrations (i.e., potential contaminants), and trophic linkages between three recreationally exploited sportfish species (black drum, red drum, and spotted seatrout) and their prey items in Matagorda Bay to determine whether movements throughout the bay system expose these sportfish to varying concentrations of trace elements.

The objectives of the study are to:

  1. Characterize the movement patterns of black drum, red drum, and spotted seatrout in the Matagorda Bay system using acoustic telemetry.
  2. Measure and compare the concentration of essential and nonessential trace elements in black drum, red drum, and spotted seatrout and their prey at each location to determine whether individual elements are biomagnifying, biodiluting, or do not significantly change in concentration at this trophic step.
  3. Determine the stable isotope ratios (δ13C, δ34S, and δ15N) in sportfish muscle tissue and representative prey to elucidate the diet, foraging habitat, and trophic position, respectively, of each sportfish species and determine which prey poses the greatest risk of exposure to each trace element for each sportfish species within different areas of the bay system.