Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Chadwick Rittenhouse, Eric Schultz

Field of Study

Natural Resources


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


The Spotfin Killifish (Fundulus luciae) is a salt marsh inhabitant, occupying a habitat subject to change from 1) historic changes from mosquito ditching practices to 2) more contemporary anthropogenic changes from sea level rise and coastal development. Though thought to be a habitat specialist along the Atlantic coast, Spotfin Killifish resource selection has yet to be quantified. Spotfin Killifish presence or absence data was recorded with measured habitat characteristics at sites along a 14 km stretch of coastal Connecticut. Three hypotheses were proposed to create probabilistic models that could predict Spotfin Killifish presence or absence using logistic regression: physical habitat structure and configuration, position within the marsh, and habitat size or volume. Comparisons of candidate models from Akaike’s Information Criterion weights found biotic and abiotic structure to be of importance among the three competing candidate models; however, no single hypothesis explained Spotfin Killifish presence. Using that information, a post hoc analysis was created to provide a better predictive model to locate Spotfin Killifish presence. The post hoc model with the most support used a combination of decreasing volume size, increasing vegetation structure, and increasing vertical banks and undercuts. The post hoc model with the most AIC weight was tested for predictive capabilities, and a Spotfin Killifish resource selection function was then quantified to predict presence. Spotfin Killifish are likely utilizing their diminutive size to select for salt marsh habitat with increased structure and decreased volumes to avoid predation. The calculated resource selection function can be used to provide insight into possible effects on Spotfin Killifish populations from historic mosquito ditching and can be used to inform future conservation management practices in light of salt marsh degradation from sea level rise and coastal development.

Major Advisor

Jason Vokoun

Available for download on Saturday, November 30, 2024