This study documents the seasonal fine-scale distribution, species richness, and abundance of subtidal fish species inhabiting sandy-bottom habitats in areas adjacent to Humboldt Bay, California. In total, 3 sampling areas, 2 located 5-km offshore, and 1 located 1-km offshore, were sampled quarterly for 1 y. Flatfish species (families Pleuronectidae and Bothidae) were the most common finfish sampled, although seasonal and spatial patterns varied among individual species. For instance, the abundance and size of English Sole (Parophrys vetulus) and Pacific Sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus) varied across both seasons and sampling areas, which may be attributed to their ontogenetic migration to offshore adult habitat. Species such as Starry Flounder (Platichthys stellatus) and Butter Sole (Isopsetta isolepis), did not vary seasonally, but did differ across sampling areas, likely as a function of depth. Although not the primary focus of our study, we include the abundance and diversity of invertebrates sampled, noting they far outnumbered finfish. Future research can use this study as a baseline to determine the temporal stability of these communities, and as a reference for comparative studies along the entire west coast.
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Vol. 98 • No. 1