Depth-stratified samples, collected during a period where the water column was vertically mixed (March 2000) and a period of thermal stratification (September 2000), were analyzed in order to investigate the horizontal and vertical distribution patterns and composition of mesozooplankton, especially copepod species assemblages, in a pelagic (Ionian Sea) and a coastal area (Patraikos Gulf) of the eastern Mediterranean. Total mesozooplankton abundance and biomass were significantly lower in the highly oligotrophic offshore waters of the Ionian Sea when compared to the semi-enclosed Patraikos Gulf during both seasons. Small-sized copepods dominated the mesozooplankton community. An 'offshore' and a 'coastal' copepod assemblage were defined in the surface layer (0-50 m) only during March when differences in environmental conditions (i.e., temperature, salinity and fluorescence) were strong between the two areas. Copepod vertical community structure in offshore waters differed between sampling months. In March one assemblage (0-200 m) was mainly identified, while in September three distinct assemblages (0-50, 50-100 and 100-200 m) were observed, related to different vertical distribution patterns of the various copepod species. A pronounced seasonal change of the dominant copepods was evident in the surface layer, where strong differences in hydrological properties were observed from March to September. Below this layer, the copepod community was relatively stable showing decreasing seasonal differences with increasing depth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science