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Comparison of seasonal trends between reef and offshore zooplankton communities in the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea)

AuthorsOlivares, Manuel
AdvisorCornils, Astrid; Ismar, Stefanie M.H.
Issue DateJan-2016
PublisherUniversität Kiel
AbstractZooplankton plays a crucial role in the proper growth and development of reef-building corals under environmental stress, making the study of zooplankton communities particularly important in areas such as the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) where corals show a great potential to cope with climate change factors. In the present study, reef zooplankton communities (>200 µm) were characterized in the northern Gulf of Aqaba, and compared to epipelagic offshore communities in order to find out whether a distinct reef community exists despite the short distance between coastal and offshore regions. Seasonal, spatial and diel patterns in terms of species composition, abundance, biomass, and C:N ratios of mesozooplankton communities were investigated at two different stations: one above the reef and one in offshore waters. There was special focus on the copepod community due to its great contribution within the mesozooplankton community. The results showed that the species composition, abundance, and biomass of reef and offshore communities were not significantly different, suggesting that the high proximity and the water exchange between both offshore and coastal areas do not allow distinguishing a distinct reef community. However, a few spatial differences were identified, i. e. the abundance of chaetognaths and the richness of copepod families were higher at the offshore station. The species composition of both communities was typical for tropical and subtropical seas, characterized by the high dominance of copepods (especially small calanoids), followed by mollusc larvae, appendicularians, and chaetognaths. However, the range of zooplankton abundance and the two-peak annual cycle of zooplankton abundance and biomass were more characteristic for temperate waters. No significant differences were found between day and night communities, except for some specific taxa such as chaetognaths, euphausiids, and decapods, which were more abundant at night. The match between environmental and biological patterns was weak, suggesting that the time resolution and the taxonomic resolution in the present study did not allow establishing significant correlations between environmental and biological parameters. C:N ratios of copepods were significantly higher at the reef across different taxa and seasons, which constitutes a proof of the importance of reef-building corals to provide C-rich material to the water column
DescriptionTrabajo final presentado por Manuel Olivares Requena para un Máster de la Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, realizado bajo la dirección de la Dra. Astrid Cornils (AWI) y del Dr. Stefanie M.H. Ismar (GEOMAR).-- 48 pages
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