A drop net and removable walkway used to quantitatively sample fishes over wetland surfaces in the dwarf mangroves of the southern Everglades


We describe a 9 m2 drop net and removable walkways designed to quantify densities of small fishes in wetland habitats with low to moderate vegetation density. The method permits the collection of small, quantitative, discrete samples in ecologically sensitive areas by combining rapid net deployment from fixed sites with the carefully contained use of the fish toxicant rotenone. This method requires very little contact with the substrate, causes minimal alteration to the habitat being sampled, samples small fishes in an unbiased manner, and allows for differential sampling of microhabitats within a wetland. When used in dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) habitat in southern Everglades National Park and adjacent areas (September 1990 to March 1993), we achieved high recovery efficiencies (78–90%) for five common species textless110 mm in length. We captured 20,193 individuals of 26 species. The most abundant fishes were sheepshead minnowCyprinodon variegatus, goldspotted killifishFloridichthys carpio, rainwater killifishLucania parva, sailfin mollyPoecilia latipinna, and the exotic Mayan cichlidCichlasoma urophthalmus. The 9 m2 drop net and associated removable walkways are versatile and can be used in a variety of wetland types, including both interior and coastal wetlands with either herbaceous or woody vegetation.