MEPS 123:65-71 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps123065

Copepod carcasses in the ocean. II. Near coral reefs

Genin A, Gal G, Haury L

Copepod carcasses containing little or no internal tissue, but bearing undamaged setae and appendages, dominated zooplankton samples collected near the coral reef of Eilat, Israel. The proportions of carcasses to total copepods (living plus dead) increased from open offshore waters (22%) to the reef (65%). Proportions across a sandy shore without a reef were low (<25%), with no significant changes with respect to distance from shore. Calanoid copepods exhibited higher proportions of carcasses than cyclopoids. Carcasses similar to those found in our plankton samples were egested in aquaria by freshly collected post-settling fish larvae and crinoids. High proportions (>80%) of carcasses co-occurred with extremely low (<100 m-3) abundances of zooplankton, further corroborating a relationship between predation and carcass abundance. Since the nutritional value of carcasses is substantially less than that of living individuals, differentiating between live copepods and carcasses should be critical for planktivores inhabiting reefs, as well as for investigations of trophic dynamics in such habitats.

Copepod . Carcass . Coral reef . Predation

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