Zooplankton are important components of the aquatic food webs as they help couple phytoplankton production through grazing activity to production at higher trophic levels. The dynamics of zooplankton community in coastal aquatic ecosystems is a function of many factors including climate variability and anthropogenic activities that contribute to nutrient enrichment, increase phytoplankton productivity, and alter densities of predators and trophic interactions (Kimmel and Roman 2004, Kimmel et al. 2006, Roman et al. 2005).
The objectives of this study are to:
a) Determine the assemblage/community structure of micro- and mesozooplankton
b) Examine mesozooplankton mortality in situ, using a novel staining technique developed by Dr. Kam Tang, and production under HAB and non-HAB conditions
c) Quantify the density and biomass of M. leidyi in the five lagoons of MCBs during spring, summer and fall of each year relative to environmental factors
d) Characterize the size distribution of the ctenophores temporally and spatially,
e) Examine whether ctenophore abundance and distribution have any influence on zooplankton
These data will be used along with data that will be collected on water quality changes due to land use and climate variability (subproject 1), the abundance of phytoplankton species including HABs (subproject 2) and abundance of planktivorous fish (subproject 4) to assess the effects of the various factors on zooplankton dynamics.