, Volume 162, Issue 2, pp 147–155 | Cite as

Zooplankton abundance and transport in a tropical white-water river

  • James F. SaundersIII
  • William M. LewisJr.


Zooplankton abundance and transport were studied in the Apure River of western Venuzuela over a 15-month period. Much of the lower portion of the drainage basin, which is an extensive savanna of low relief, is subject to seasonal flooding. Although more than 50 zooplankton species were recorded during the study, nine rotifer species accounted for more than 90% of total density (mean, 138 individuals · L-1). Copepods were represented primarily by Mesocyclops decipiens. Most cladocerans were planktonic, but cladocerans were not abundant. Crustaceans comprised 46% of annual mean zooplankton biomass (1.9 μgC·L-1) but only 2% of zooplankton numbers. The annual transport of zooplankton biomass from the watershed was 29 300 kgC. Zooplankton abundance showed a strong, inverse relationship to discharge. Secondary branches (caños) of the braided channel appeared to be the primary source areas, but populations of some species also reproduced in the main channel at low water. As the river began to rise, caños were flushed and thus abruptly ceased to serve as source areas. Zooplankton transport fell sharply and remained low until the river inundated the floodplain. Secondary production in the floodplain was exported to the river as long as a connection existed. After drainage ceased from the floodplain, transport fell to very low levels until caños again became suitable habitat. Seasonal fluctuations in river level regulate the development of source areas suitable for zooplankton growth and control the export of plankton from the source areas. Plankton in the running waters reproduce only at low water.

Key words

zooplankton abundance tropical zooplankton tropical rivers 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • James F. SaundersIII
    • 1
  • William M. LewisJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Colorado Center for Limnology, Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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