, Volume 292-293, Issue 1, pp 405-413

Planktonic copepods of Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay, 1992

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Abstract

Zooplankton were collected by vertical tows with 102 µm mesh at ten stations in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay in February, March, April, June, August, and October, 1992. This study was part of a larger monitoring program to assess the effects of a major sewage abatement project, and sampling periods were designed around periods of major phytoplankton events such as the winter-spring diatom bloom, the stratified summer flagellate period, and the autumn transition from stratified to mixed waters. There was considerable seasonal variation in total zooplankton abundance, with minimal values in April (1929–11631 animals m−3) during a massive bloom of Phaeocystis pouchetii, and maximum values (67 316–261075 animals m−3) in August. There were no consistent trends of total abundance where any particular station had greater or lesser abundance than others over the entire year. Zooplankton abundance was dominated by copepods (adults + copepodites) and copepod nauplii (30.4–100.0% of total zooplankton, mean= 83.2%). Despite the large seasonal variation in zooplankton and copepod abundance, the copepod assemblage was dominated throughout the entire year by the small copepod Oithona similis, followed by Paracalanus parvus. Other less-abundant copepods present year-round were Pseudocalanus newmani, Temora longicornis, Centropages hamatus, C. typicus, and Calanus finmarchicus. Two species of Acartia were present, primarily in low-salinity waters of Boston Harbor: A. hudsonica during cold periods, and A. tonsa in warm ones. Eurytemora herdmani was also a subdominant in Boston Harbor in October. The potential role of zooplankton grazing in phytoplankton dynamics and bloom cycles in these waters must be considered in view of the overwhelming numerical dominance of the zooplankton by Oithona similis which may feed primarily as a carnivore. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that eutrophication-induced alteration of phytoplankton assemblages could cause significant ‘trophic domino effects’, reducing abundances of Calanus finmarchicus that are forage of endangered right whales seasonally utilizing Cape Cod Bay because C. finmarchicus has long been known to be a relatively unselective grazer, and most importantly, it is a trivial component of total zooplankton or total copepod abundance in these waters.