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Vertical distribution and diel patterns of zooplankton abundance and biomass at Conch Reef, Florida Keys (USA)

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John BythellORCiD



Zooplankton play an important role in the trophic dynamics of coral reef ecosystems. Detailed vertical and temporal distribution and biomass of zooplankton were evaluated at four heights off the bottom and at six times throughout the diel cycle over a coral reef in the Florida Keys (USA). Zooplankton abundance averaged 4396 +/- 1949 SD individuals m(-3), but temporal and spatial distributions varied for individual zooplankton taxa by time of day and by height off the bottom. Copepods comprised 93-96% of the abundance in the samples. Taxon-based zooplankton CHN values paired with abundance data were used to estimate biomass. Average daily biomass ranged from 3.1 to 21.4 mg C m(-3) and differed by both height off the bottom and by time of day. While copepods were the numerically dominant organisms, their contribution to biomass was only 35% of the total zooplankton biomass. Our findings provide important support for the new emerging paradigm of how zooplankton are distributed over reefs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heidelberg KB, O'Neil KL, Bythell JC, Sebens KP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Plankton Research

Year: 2010

Volume: 32

Issue: 1

Pages: 75-91

Print publication date: 01/01/2010

Date deposited: 03/02/2010

ISSN (print): 0142-7873

ISSN (electronic): 1464-3774

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/plankt/fbp101


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Funder referenceFunder name
U. Maryland Department of Biology
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
National Undersea Research Program