MEPS 213:215-227 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps213215

Temporal and spatial patterns of zooplankton in the Chesapeake Bay turbidity maximum

M. R. Roman1,*, D. V. Holliday2, L. P. Sanford1

1Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies, PO Box 775, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, USA
2BAE Systems, Suite 102, 4669 Murphy Canyon Road., San Diego, California 92123, USA

ABSTRACT: We measured the distribution of hydrographic parameters, currents, phytoplankton fluorescence, suspended sediments and zooplankton in axial transects through the Chesapeake Bay estuarine turbidity maximum (ETM) seasonally (May, July and October 1996) and over tidal cycles within seasons. Zooplankton abundance was estimated with a 6-frequency, Tracor Acoustical Profiling System (TAPS-6) at the same vertical (0.25 to 0.50 m) and horizontal (0.5 to 1.5 km) resolution as hydrographic parameters and suspended sediments. The general pattern exhibited in axial transects through the Chesapeake Bay ETM is that sediments, fluorescence and zooplankton are in higher concentrations up-Bay of the salt wedge (defined as the intersection of the 1 isohaline with the bottom). The salinity front appears to trap these particles in the upper portion of Chesapeake Bay. The highest acoustically determined zooplankton biomass generally occurred near the bottom, at the toe of the salt wedge. The convergence zone associated with this feature concentrates sediments and zooplankton (primarily the copepod Eurytemora affinis). Advection appeared to dominate changes in zooplankton abundance during time series studies at a fixed station in the ETM. Zooplankton biomass at the fixed ETM station increased/decreased with the tidal excursion of the salt wedge. Water column zooplankton concentrations and the vertical distribution of zooplankton biomass appeared to be influenced by currents. We often found that during maximum ebb and flood tidal currents, zooplankton biomass and sediments in the mid and upper water column increased. Thus the hydrodynamic processes that resuspend, advect and trap suspended sediments in the ETM likely have the same effects on zooplankton. The ETM of the Chesapeake Bay appears to act as an entrapment zone for zooplankton. The lack of diel vertical migration, carrying eggs until they are ready to hatch, possible reduced predation by visual predators in the turbid waters, and the ability to consume phytoplankton, protozoa and detritus all may allow Eurytemora to persist at high concentrations in the Chesapeake Bay ETM.

KEY WORDS: Zooplankton · Estuarine turbidity maximum zone · Chesapeake Bay

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