Nocturnal near-reef zooplankton from the forereef of Discovery Bay, Jamaica, were sampled during winter and summer 1994 using a diver-operated plankton pump with an intake head positioned within centimeters of benthic zooplanktivores. The pump collected zooplankton not effectively sampled by conventional net tows or demersal traps. We found consistently greater densities of zooplankton than did earlier studies that used other sampling methods in similar locations. There was no significant difference between winter (3491+/-578 m(-3)) and summer (2853+/-293 m(-3)) zooplankton densities. Both oceanic- and reef-associated forms were found at temporal and spatial scales relevant to benthic suspension feeders. Copepods were always the most abundant group, averaging 89% of the total zooplankton, and most were not of demersal origin. The cyclopoids, Oithona spp., were the numerically dominant organisms, with an average density of 1684+/-260 m(-3). Other zooplankton (e.g., shrimp larvae, crab larvae, polychaetes, chaetognaths, amphipods, and isopods) were highly variable and much less abundant. Near-reef zooplankton abundances were high throughout the night sampling period, not just after sunset and before sunrise as previously described. Mean biomass was 4.5 mg C m(-3), with values ranging from 1.0 to 15.6 mg C m(-3). This work has important implications for evaluating which zooplankton types are available to benthic suspension feeders, including corals.
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