TROPHIC ECOLOGY AND PHYSIOLOGICAL CONDITION OF BLACK SEA BASS CENTROPRISTIS STRIATA IN THE MIDDLE ATLANTIC BIGHT
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Black sea bass Centropristis striata (Linnaeus, 1758) is a valuable Middle Atlantic Bight fisheries species, but spatial patterns in condition and diet during summer residence at inshore reefs remain largely unknown. I examined a suite of potential drivers of physiological condition and trophic niche of C. striata using morphometric, stomach contents, and stable isotope indicators. Regional differences in liver tissue lipid content and standard condition indices covaried with additional biotic and abiotic factors. I show that liver tissue must be corrected for lipid content prior to interpreting liver carbon stable isotope data and I provide a correction equation for this species. Both spatial and biological factors explained observed patterns in diet and trophic niche metrics. An understanding of the factors that underlie spatial and temporal patterns in condition and trophic ecology provides insights necessary to help inform ecologically-focused management decisions.