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Andradi-Brown DA, Head C, Exton DA, Hunt CL, Hendrix A, Gress E, Rogers AD.2016. Identifying zooplankton community changes between shallow and upper-mesophotic reefs on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Caribbean. PeerJ Preprints4:e2531v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2531v1
Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs, reefs 30 -150m) are understudied, yet the limited research conducted has been biased towards large sessile taxa, such as scleractinian corals and sponges, or mobile taxa such as fish. Here we investigate zooplankton communities on shallow reefs and MCEs around Utila, on the southern Mesoamerican Barrier Reef using planktonic light traps. Zooplankton samples were sorted into broad taxonomic groups. Our results indicate similar taxonomic zooplankton richness and overall biomass between shallow reefs and MCEs, but that abundance of larger bodied (>2 mm) zooplanktonic groups, including decapod crab zoea, mysid shrimps and peracarid crustaceans was higher on MCEs than shallow reefs. Our findings highlight the important of considering zooplankton when identifying broader reef community shifts across the shallow reef to MCE depth gradient.
This short manuscript considers differences in recorded zooplankton communities on shallow reefs (15 m) and mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; 40 m) on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Caribbean. We plan to shortly submit this article for peer review, but this version is a preprint submission to PeerJ Preprints.