You are on page 1of 6

Ryan Dawson 5 March 2014 MARB 435-902 Zooplankton Sampling in Galveston Bay Introduction

Plankton are organisms that live suspended in the water column, freshwater or saltwater. Unlike nekton, plankton cannot actively move against currents, they are pushed along by them. When talking about the planktonic life cycle there are two categories for grouping. Holoplankton are organisms that stay planktonic for their entire lives and meroplankton are organisms that stay planktonic for only part of their lives. An example of meroplankton are the larvae of many marine species. When talking about plankton characteristics there are two major types: phytoplankton and zooplankton. Phytoplankton are unicellular photosynthetic protists and bacteria and are at the bottom of every marine food chain, being the main primary producers in the ocean. Zooplankton on the other hand can be either unicellular or multicellular and feed on prey. Zooplankton normally perform diurnal vertical migrations in the water column for feeding and avoidance of predators (Schulze). There are three different size classes for zooplankton: microzooplankton, mesozooplankton, and macrozooplankton. Microzooplankton range from 20 to 200 !m. Mesozooplankton make up the abundance of plankton tows and range from 0.2 to 2 mm. A large group of mesozooplankton commonly found in tows are copepods. Macrozooplankton are larger than 2mm and are comprised of the jellies and larval fish. Zooplankton are at the bottom of the food chain and therefor, every animal above them in the food chain relies on there presence in the ecosystem. Large numbers of zooplankton in an environment provide an abundant food

source for larger predators and indicate a healthy environment. The purpose of this lab is to sample the abundance of zooplankton at the surface and subsurface in Galveston Bay. Taxon Description Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Animalia Ctenophora Tentaculata Cydippida Pleurobrachiidae Pleurobrachia

Pleurobrachia have a slight oval, spherical shape and are slightly flattened on the two pole ends. These two poles are called the oral and aboral poles, where the mouth and anus are located respectively. The oral pole may protrude slightly from the spherical shape and the aboral pole may be depressed into the body slightly, as shown in Figure 1.

! ! ! ! ! !

Figure 1. Scientic drawing of a ctenophore, depicting the oral and aboral poles. Shown at 10x magnication.

The feature which gives the ctenophore its name however, are the eight comb rows, which run vertically around the entire body of the ctenophore. These comb rows are called ctenes and the four lines in Figure 1. above depict how they are arranged on the Pleurobrachia. Ctenophores of the class Tentaculata use tentacles to capture prey and then bring that prey to their oral lobes for consumption. Ctenophores in the class Nuda don't have tentacles to capture prey, instead prey is

captured and consumed by muscular lips surrounding the mouth (Pechenik 2010). As far as reproduction goes, ctenophores are simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning a single individual bas both male and female gonads. These gonads are located along the gastrovascular canal so that gametes are released into the digestive tract and expelled through the mouth (Pechenik 2010). Materials and Methods All of the tows and sampling were done in Galveston Bay. There was a total of 16 tows done: 8 at the surface and 8 subsurface (approximately one meter). We had two large buckets to put the specimens from surface and subsurface. One to two inches of sweater were put into each bucket to keep the specimens from drying out. Each tow lasted one minute and the net was rinsed off between each tow, to remove any clinging plankton between samples. YSI data was also collected at the sampling site. Back in the lab a sample of the water with plankton from one of the buckets was put into a finger bowl and examined underneath a dissecting scope. MgCl was added in the finger bowls to slow down the specimens and aid in identifying them. This was done by multiple people in the lab and every identified species was recorded for both the subsurface and surface tows. Results A much larger percentage of organisms were caught in the subsurface tow than in the surface tow. As shown in the table below, the subsurface tow had approximately four times as many organisms as the surface tow.

! !

Surface Noctiluca scintillans barnacle cyprid barnacle naupilus (2) Nemopsis bachei (2) late trocophore larva (polychaets) Subsurface Mnemiopsis sp. Barnacle cyprid larva (5) Copepod (15) Isopod (3) Juvenile polychaete (5) Mullers larva There were a total of four different groups of organisms in the surface tow: Dinoflagelletes, Barnacles, Cnidarians, and Polychaetes. There were a total of five different groups of organisms in the subsurface tow: Ctenophores, Barnacles, Arthropods, Polychaetes, and Platyhelminthes. The Barnacles and Polychaetes are the two groups that showed up in both the surface and subsurface tows. Eleven out of the thirty subsurface specimens were juvenile and one out of the seven surface specimens were juvenile. So 36.6% of the subsurface specimens were juvenile and 14.3% of the surface specimens were juvenile. The YSI data collected out in the field gave the water temperature as 11.3oC and the salinity as 17 ppt. Discussion As stated in the results section, there were substantially more organisms collected from the subsurface tow than the surface tow. This could be because the tows were done at a time when the plankton were not feeding. Zooplankton make diurnal movements to the waters surface, so perhaps the tows were done at a time these movements were not taking place. Perhaps a future study could build off of this one and look at the abundance of zooplankton during these

diurnal movements. One problem we ran into was that the lab for this day got cancelled so the tows had to be done beforehand and brought to lab so that we only got to identify the plankton. Studies like this are important because they give us an idea of the abundance and types of zooplankton species in an environment. By knowing the numbers of producers and primary consumers in an environment you can approximate the health of that environment. The greater abundance of these producers and consumers, the more food is available for larger animals and everything is kept in balance.!

References Pechenik, J. A. (2010). Biology of the invertebrates. (6th ed., pp. 137-148). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Schulze, A. Invertebrate zoology lab manual.