Long Term Studies

Spanning more than three decades, our ongoing, long-term database describes the population dynamics and community structure of fish and invertebrates throughout the Rhode River, a representative subestuary of Chesapeake Bay.

Anson Hines/Senior Scientist
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

PO Box 28
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Phone: 443-482-2208
Fax: 443-482-2380
Email: hinesa@si.edu
Curriculum Vitae


This research tracks seasonal, annual and decadal variation in species composition and abundance of all fish and macro-invertebrates of the system. Temporal variation is related to ecosystem change (weather, land-use, water quality, fisheries impacts, predator dynamics). The long-term descriptive data, in combination with our experimental studies, provide an unusual overview of estuarine population dynamics and community structure. This research has been funded by SI Environmental Sciences Program and external funding for SERC's Fellowship/Professional Training Program.

There are four main components to our long-term studies:

Muddy creek weirFish and Crustaceans of a Tributary Creek
More than 65 species of fish and blue crabs use Muddy Creek (a small tidal tributary of the Rhode River) for seasonal reproduction, nursery habitat, molting refuge, and year-round residence. At weekly intervals for more than 30 years (since 1983), we have utilized a permanent fish weir to sample the abundance and species composition of all fish and crabs moving up and down the creek. click here to learn more>>

trawling from the RV Saxatilis Epibenthic Fish and Crabs
Epibenthic fish and crabs (including blue crabs, Norfolk spot, croaker, and various flat fish) comprise the dominant predators on benthic communities. We sample epibenthic fish and blue crabs using triplicate otter trawls at 4 stations arrayed along the axis of the Rhode River. The lab has been collecting this data since 1981.
click here to learn more>>

Infaunal Benthic Invertebrate Community
sifting benthic sampleInfaunal macro-invertebrates are dominated by deposit feeders and small suspension feeders that process the particles at the sediment-water interface. These species undergo large seasonal fluctuations with spring and fall recruitment and high summer mortality from fish and crab predation. We have sampled community dynamics with cores at 4 stations along the axis of the Rhode River for 35 years (since 1979). Diversity is low with about 20 common species and a total of about 55 species, but secondary production is high, forming a major link in benthic-pelagic coupling, as these invertebrates are the major food resource for epibenthic fish and crabs. click here to learn more>>

pulling in seine netNearshore Community of Fish and Crustaceans
Juvenile fish and crustaceans utilize the nearshore shallow fringe of Chesapeake Bay as a nursery habitat and refuge from large predatory fish and adult blue crabs. Since 1981, we have sampled the summertime abundance and species composition of nearshore communities using seines pulled at 13 stations arrayed. click here to learn more>>