Coral Reefs

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 87–94 | Cite as

Near-bottom depletion of zooplankton over a coral reef II: relationships with zooplankton swimming ability

  • Roi Holzman
  • Matthew A. Reidenbach
  • Stephen G. Monismith
  • Jeffrey R. Koseff
  • Amatzia Genin


Intense predation by corals and associated fauna can generate vertical gradients of their zooplankton prey. The goal of this study was to characterize the small-scale distribution of zooplankton above the coral reef of Eilat, Israel. Four vertical arrays, each consisting five underwater pumps attached 0.5–3 m apart on a taut mooring, were deployed for 10 days at two sites over the reef slope. A distinct layer of depleted zooplankton was repeatedly found in the 1.5 m high benthic boundary layer. The gradient was sharpest for strong swimmers (copepods and polychaeta), intermediate for weak swimmers (nauplii, mollusks and appendicularia), and lacking for passive taxa (eggs and foraminifera). Spatio-temporal changes in the abundance of copepods and polychaetes were highly correlated, more so in the water aloft (Pearson r>0.9) than near the bottom (r>0.8). The spatio-temporal correlations between weak swimmers and between passive taxa were much weaker (r<0.8 and r<0.4, respectively). Flow and shear stress did not affect the distribution patterns. The correspondence between the zooplankton distribution and their swimming ability indicates that bottom avoidance contribute to the formation of depleted layer over the reef.


Behavior Small-scale distribution Predation Boundary layer 



We thank M. Ohevia for designing and building the pump arrays and underwater rigs and for extensive technical help throughout the study, I. Ayalon and B. Farstey for helping with the zooplankton counts, R Goldshmid, S Rickel, G Yahel and R Yahel for constructive discussions and reviews, E. Dunkelberger, S. Nielsen, R. Motro, Y. Shif, S. Rickel, T. Holzman for invaluable help with the underwater work, D. Fong for assistance with the bathymetric chart. We are grateful to P.F. Sale and an anonymous reviewer for a critical review and many helpful comments. The Interuniversity Institute of Eilat provided invaluable logistic support. This study was supported by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the Stanford University Bio-X Interdisciplinary Research Initiative. R. Holzman wishes to thank the Rieger Foundation for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roi Holzman
    • 1
  • Matthew A. Reidenbach
    • 2
    • 3
  • Stephen G. Monismith
    • 2
  • Jeffrey R. Koseff
    • 2
  • Amatzia Genin
    • 1
  1. 1.The Inter-university Institute for Marine Sciences of Eilat and Department of Evolution, Systematics and EcologyThe Hebrew University of JerusalemEilatIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringStanford UniversityStanford, CaliforniaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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