Faunal structure is described for the planktonic molluscs of the Middle Atlantic Bight based on two years of seasonal data from the continental shelf. Collection and taxa groups are constructed using numerical classification and reciprocal averaging ordination. Discriminant analysis is used to relate surface collection groups to physical variables, then taxa group distribution among these collection groups is analyzed by nodal fidelity analysis. The areal distribution of dominant species is presented by season, as is their surface temperature-salinity distribution.
Four communities are recognized on the continental shelf. A subarctic community, including Limacina retroversa, Paedoclione doliiformis, and Clione limacina, is advected down the central shelf region from the northeast. A Gulf Stream community of weak vertical migrators, including Limacina trochiformis, Cavolinia longirostris, Creseis conica, Atlanta peroni, and A. gaudichaudi, is introduced onto the shelf in occasional intrusions across the shelf-edge front. A depth-limited warm-water community of strong vertical migrators, including Limacina inflata, L. bulimoides, L. lesueuri, and Cavolinia inflexa is generally confined offshore of the 100-m isobath since the extent of their daily vertical migration is greater than the bottom depths on the continental shelf. A coastal community, including the larvae of Loligo pealei and of Ensis directus is found in coastal water of local origin and is generally confined within a coastal boundary layer.