Theses and Dissertations

Variability in the Condition of Fundulus Grandis Across Alabama's Coastal Waters: A Potential Indicator of Ecosystem Health

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Environmental Toxicology

Committee Chair

Ronald Baker, Ph.D.


Monitoring indicator species can be a useful way of assessing the effects of multiple interacting stressors on ecosystem health. As a widespread, ecologically important species, with individuals showing high site fidelity, the Gulf killifish, Fundulus grandis, has potential to be a good indicator species of environmental health in coastal regions in the Gulf of Mexico. This study investigated variability in F. grandis body condition, including length to weight ratio, hepatosomatic index, gonadosomatic index, liposomatic index, total energy bodies index (developed in this study), and caloric content, in relation to natural environmental gradients, catchment land use, and local seascape composition, within coastal Alabama waters. F. grandis were collected from 14 sites across environmental and urbanization gradients across coastal Alabama. F. grandis tended to be lighter than predicted for their length at low salinity sites in the upper Mobile Bay, and had a lower mass of energy bodies in sites with more urbanization within the local catchment. While caloric content seemed promising as a condition metric, complications arising from methodology resulted in inconclusive data. Overall, F. grandis is a viable indicator species for environmental health within the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico.

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