Date of Award

Fall 2013

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Elizabeth Fairchild


A preliminary study, using young-of-the-year winter flounder from 12 nursery areas from New Jersey to New Hampshire, evaluated indirect and direct measurements of nursery quality. Growth and condition indices (length d --1, weight d--1, Fulton's K and relative weight) were calculated from otolith microstructure to indirectly evaluate nursery quality. Boston Harbor, MA and Great Bay, NH were found to be the healthiest nurseries and the Niantic River, CT was found to be the least healthy nursery. In addition to these indirect indices, we conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of otolith microchemistry as a direct measurement of nursery habitat. Otolith elemental signatures were found to be site specific and vary on a small spatial scale (5-10km). Juveniles were classified back to natal nursery areas with 73% accuracy using otolith signatures. The indirect and direct measurements used in this study can be used to assess nursery habitat quality in the future.