Overview

Brief Summary

The winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, (also known as black back or lemon sole) is a valuable commercially- and recreationally-fished flatfish. Native to western Atlantic waters, winter flounder are a common North American flatfish inhabiting sandy or muddy bottoms between Newfoundland, Canada and Georgia, USA. Adults prefer water temperatures of 12-15oC; they live inshore in the fall and winter, spawning in relatively shallow waters in the spring or early summer, then often (although not always, depending on food availability, water temperatures and possibly light intensity) migrate offshore, where they are found to depths 50 fathoms, for the warmer months. Unlike the eggs of other flounder species in the same area, winter flounder eggs sink to the bottom, usually in clusters. Winter flounder is a right-eyed ("dextral") flatfish that typically grows to 3-4 pounds, 58 cm (larger on Georges bank) and lives up to 15 years. Small-mouthed, winter flounders feed opportunistically on small invertebrates and larval fish, using primarily vision to locate food. Young and adult flounders are sensitive to waters high in sediment, which restrict feeding and this species is vulnerable to human activity because they spend much time in shallow water. Winter flounder are managed as three distinct natural groupings in the US: Gulf of Maine, southern New England-Mid-Atlantic, and Georges Bank, and three in Canadian waters: western Scotian Shelf eastern Scotian Shelf, and the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Heavily harvested, NOAA reports the US fishery has severely declined and although their most recent assessment has a high degree of uncertainty, all three US stocks are likely overfished.

(Bigelow and Schroeder 2002; Decelles and Cadrin 2011; Hendrickson, Nitschke and Terceiro 2006; NOAA Fishwatch; Pereira et al. 1999; Wikipedia 2011)

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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Adults inhabit soft muddy to moderately hard bottoms (Ref. 5951). Feed predominantly in daytime on organisms living in, on or near the bottom; shrimps, amphipods, crabs, sea urchins and snails (Ref. 12232). Batch spawner (Ref. 51846).
  • Murdy, E.O., R.S. Birdsong and J.A. Musick 1997 Fishes of Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Institution Press Washington and London. 324 p. (Ref. 27549)
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Labrador to Georgia, abundant only in the central part of its range
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Western North Atlantic: coast of North America.
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Western Atlantic: Labrador, Canada to Georgia, USA.
  • Leim, A.H. and W.B. Scott 1966 Fishes of the Atlantic coast of Canada. Bull. Fish. Res. Board Can. (155):485 p. (Ref. 4926)
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Western North Atlantic: coast of North America.
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From the Strait of Belle Isle, the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and southern and southeastern Newfoundland to Chesapeake Bay; southern part of the Grand Banks north to Ungava Bay, northern Labrador, and south to North Carolina and Georgia.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Cooper, J. A. and F. Chapleau, 1998; Scarratt, D. J., 1996.
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Physical Description

Size

Maximum size: 640 mm TL
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Maximum size: 640 mm TL
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Max. size

64.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 7251)); max. published weight: 3,600 g (Ref. 7251); max. reported age: 14 years (Ref. 52686)
  • Lux, F.E. 1973 Age and growth of the winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, on Georges Bank. Fish. Bull. 71:505-512. (Ref. 52686)
  • Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray 1986 A field guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 354 p. (Ref. 7251)
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to 64 cm TL (male/unsexed); max. weight: 3,600 g.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Cooper, J. A. and F. Chapleau, 1998; Scarratt, D. J., 1996.
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Type Information

Type for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 73918
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Preparation: Illustration
Locality: Georges Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
Vessel: Spray
  • Type:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74261
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74265
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74263
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74264
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74262
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74260
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank E. of Nantucket Shoal, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74259
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank E. of Nantucket Shoal, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74258
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank E. of Nantucket Shoal, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74267
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74266
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Cotype for Pseudopleuronectes americanus
Catalog Number: USNM 74268
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: George'S Bank, Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic
  • Cotype:
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Marine

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benthic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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An inshore species, found to depths of 5 m, migrate offshore in winter and return inshore by summer.
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Environment

demersal; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); marine; depth range 5 - 143 m (Ref. 5951)
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
  • Scott, W.B. and M.G. Scott 1988 Atlantic fishes of Canada. Can. Bull. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 219:731 p. (Ref. 5951)
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Depth range based on 13222 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 7897 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 516
  Temperature range (°C): -0.812 - 23.867
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.034 - 22.184
  Salinity (PPS): 30.218 - 36.067
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.477 - 7.862
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.195 - 1.677
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.599 - 19.024

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 516

Temperature range (°C): -0.812 - 23.867

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.034 - 22.184

Salinity (PPS): 30.218 - 36.067

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.477 - 7.862

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.195 - 1.677

Silicate (umol/l): 1.599 - 19.024
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Demersal; marine; depth to 5 m.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Cooper, J. A. and F. Chapleau, 1998; Scarratt, D. J., 1996.
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Stellwagen Bank Benthic Community

 

The species associated with this article partially comprise the benthic community of Stellwagen Bank, an undersea gravel and sand deposit stretching between Cape Cod and Cape Ann off the coast of Massachusetts. Protected since 1993 as part of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the bank is known primarily for whale-watching and commercial fishing of cod, lobster, hake, and other species (Eldredge 1993). 

The benthic community of Stellwagen Bank is diverse and varied, depending largely on the grain size of the substrate. Sessile organisms such as bryozoans, ascidians, tunicates, sponges, and tube worms prefer gravelly and rocky bottoms, while burrowing worms, burrowing anemones, and many mollusks prefer sand or mud surfaces (NOAA 2010). Macroalgae, such as kelps, are exceedingly rare in the area — most biogenic structure along the bottom is provided by sponges, cnidarians, and worms. The dominant phyla of the regional benthos are Annelida, Mollusca, Arthropoda, and Echinodermata (NOAA 2010). 

Ecologically, the Stellwagen Bank benthos contributes a number of functions to the wider ecosystem. Biogenic structure provided by sessile benthic organisms is critical for the survivorship of juveniles of many fish species, including flounders, hake, and Atlantic cod. The benthic community includes a greater than average proportion of detritivores — many crabs and filter-feeding mollusks — recycling debris which descends from the water column above (NOAA 2010). Finally, the organisms of the sea-bed are an important source of food for many free-swimming organisms. Creatures as large as the hump-backed whale rely on the benthos for food — either catching organisms off the surface or, in the whale’s case, stirring up and feeding on organisms which burrow in sandy bottoms (Hain et al 1995). 

As a U.S. National Marine Sanctuary, Stellwagen Bank is nominally protected from dredging, dumping, major external sources of pollution, and extraction of mammals, birds or reptiles (Eldredge 1993). The benthic habitat remains threatened, however, by destructive trawling practices. Trawl nets are often weighted in order that they be held against the bottom, flattening soft surfaces, destroying biogenic structure, and killing large numbers of benthic organisms. There is also occasional threat from contaminated sediments dredged from Boston harbor and deposited elsewhere in the region (NOAA 2010). The region benefits from close observation by NOAA and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, however, and NOAA did not feel the need to make any special recommendations for the preservation of benthic communities in their 2010 Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. 

  • Eldredge, Maureen. 1993. Stellwagen Bank: New England’s first sanctuary. Oceanus 36:72.
  • Hain JHW, Ellis SL, Kenney RD, Clapham PJ, Gray BK, Weinrich MT, Babb IG. 1995. Apparent bottom feeding by humpback-whales on Stellwagen Bank. Marine Mammal Science 11, 4:464-479.
  • National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration. 2010. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctary Final Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. “Appendix J: Preliminary Species List for the SBNMS” pp. 370-381. http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/management/fmp/pdfs/sbnms_fmp2010_lo.pdf
  • National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration. 2010. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctary Final Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. “Section IV: Resource States” pp. 51-143. http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/management/fmp/pdfs/sbnms_fmp2010_lo.pdf
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
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Trophic Strategy

It is preyed upon by monkfish, dogfish, sea raven, harbor, harp and grey seals. Parasites of the species include 6 protozoans, 2 myxosporidians, 13 trematodes, 2 cestodes, 7 nematodes, 3 acanthocephalans, 2 brachiurans and 1 copepod (Ref. 5951).
  • Langton, R.W. and R.E. Bowman 1981 Food of eight Northwest Atlantic Pleuronectiform Fishes. NOAA Technical Report NMFS SSRF-749, U.S. Department of Commerce.
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Feed on benthic organisms such as shrimps, amphipods, crabs, sea urchins and snails.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Cooper, J. A. and F. Chapleau, 1998; Scarratt, D. J., 1996.
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Associations

Known predators

  • Link J (2002) Does food web theory work for marine ecosystems? Mar Ecol Prog Ser 230:1–9
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Known prey organisms

  • Link J (2002) Does food web theory work for marine ecosystems? Mar Ecol Prog Ser 230:1–9
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Diseases and Parasites

Epitheliocystis. Bacterial diseases
  • Lannan, C.N., J.L. Batholomew and J.L. Fryer 1999 Chlamydial infections of fish: Epitheliocystis. p.255-267. In P.T.K. Woo and D.W. Bruno (eds.) Fish Diseases and Disorders Vol. 3: Viral, bacterial and fungal infections. CABI Int'l. (Ref. 48851)
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

Feeds on shrimps, amphipods, crabs, sea urchins and snails
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Reproduction

Breeds in winter and early spring, spawning from January to May in New England.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Cooper, J. A. and F. Chapleau, 1998; Scarratt, D. J., 1996.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pseudopleuronectes americanus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pseudopleuronectes americanus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 13
Specimens with Barcodes: 26
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Genomic DNA is available from 1 specimen with morphological vouchers housed at British Antarctic Survey
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Threats

Not Evaluated
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: experimental; gamefish: yes
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1992 FAO yearbook 1990. Fishery statistics. Catches and landings. FAO Fish. Ser. (38). FAO Stat. Ser. 70:(105):647 p. (Ref. 4931)
  • International Game Fish Association 1991 World record game fishes. International Game Fish Association, Florida, USA. (Ref. 4699)
  • Scarratt, D.J. 1996 Atlantic Mariculture: Flounders. Communications Branch, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Scotia-Fundy Region, Halifax, Canada. (Ref. 12232)
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Wikipedia

Winter flounder

The winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, (also known as black back) is a right-eyed ("dextral") flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae. It is native to coastal waters of the western north Atlantic coast, from Labrador, Canada to Georgia, United States. In the waters from Newfoundland down through Massachusetts Bay it is the most common near-shore (shallow-water) flounder. It grows up to 64 cm in length and 3.6 kg in weight.

It spends the summer off shore in deeper waters, and winters in shallow coastal estuaries rivers and bays.

Winter flounders are highly regarded for their delicious white meat. They are sometimes called lemon sole in the U.S.[1]

They can be differentiated from summer flounder because they almost always have eyes on the right side of their bodies. They also do not have teeth. Summer flounder have their eyes on the left side of their bodies, and do have teeth.

Winter flounder are managed as three stock units in U.S. coastal waters; Southern New England, Mid-Atlantic and Gulf of Maine.


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus)". Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
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