Annual cycle of mesozooplankton at the coastal waters of Cyprus (Eastern Levantine basin)
SourceJournal of Plankton Research
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This study is the first to explore monthly and seasonal succession of the zooplankton community in coastal waters of Cyprus using a 12-month period time series. A total of 192 taxa of mesozooplankton (MZ), 145 of which were copepods, were identified at three sites at the southern and one site at the northern coasts of the island. Zooplankton distribution and community structure were influenced mostly by stratification, temperature and Chl-a. The combination of upwelling and advection from the Rhodes Gyre during summer, causing cooler waters in the southern coast of Cyprus, seems to control the food supply and offered favorable feeding conditions to zooplankton, enhancing their numbers. The proximity to a fish farm also positively affected MZ abundance and biomass. This study also revealed the importance of smaller species (e.g. Clausocalanus paululus) and juvenile stages (e.g. Clausocalanus, Oithona and Corycaeus spp.) in composition, structure and functionality of the copepod community. These species seems to be more important in low Chl-a environments, where the relative size of primary consumers is expected to be smaller and the microbial components dominant. This baseline study paves the way for further investigation of the elements of marine food webs in the ultra-oligotrophic environment of the Eastern Mediterranean.