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Composition of the near-reef zooplankton at Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef


Using a light trap, zooplankton was sampled at three stations at Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef: (a) a typical patch reef in the Heron lagoon, (b) a site in 8 m water on the southern slope of Heron reef, and (c) a station approximately 300 m south of (b), in the open water of the channel between Heron and Wistari reefs. Samples were taken at the surface and on the substratum at the lagoon and reef-slope stations, and at 3 to 6 m depth at the open-water station. A total of 114 taxa, many recognized as species, were distinguished in the samples. Pronounced differences existed in abundance, diversity, and taxonomic composition of the samples obtained at different stations. Less pronounced differences existed between surface and substratum samples from the same station. Near-reef samples were more similar to one another than to open-water samples. Decapod larvae, amphipods, and cumaceans were all abundant in near-reef samples and very rare in open-water samples. Forams, isopods, mysids and polychaetes were common in near-reef samples, and rare or absent in open-water samples. Copepods were abundant in all samples but the near-reef samples contained predominantly different species than did samples from the open water. The near-reef fauna included 66 taxa which did not occur in open-water samples. Many of these were epibenthic rather than strictly planktonic in behaviour.

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Communicated by G.F. Humphrey, Sydney

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Sale, P.F., McWilliam, P.S. & Anderson, D.T. Composition of the near-reef zooplankton at Heron Reef, Great Barrier Reef. Mar. Biol. 34, 59–66 (1976).

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  • Open Water
  • Polychaete
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Taxonomic Composition
  • Pronounced Difference