Tom Wessels, MA
Department of Environmental Studies
Larval sand lance, Ammodytes americanus, populations were sampled in the Webhannet River estuary and the adjacent waters of Wells Bay, sites monitored by the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (WNERR). Larvae were collected from 23 March through 22 May in 1993 and 1 April through 23 May in 1994. Interannual and seasonal variations in larval distribution, abundance, size and gut content were examined. Little variation was found in the density of larvae between sites or years. Larval densities peach in early April during both sample seasons. The mean length of larvae was significantly larger during the 1994 season and the seasonal total mean length of larvae was larger in the Webhannet River than in Wells Bay. Guts were empty for 87% of the larvae and analyzed from 1993. Gut content analysis showed larvae fed initially on phytoplankton and then various stages of copepods as the season progressed and larval size increased.