Zooplankton play an important role in the trophic dynamics of coral reef ecosystems. Detailed vertical and temporal distribution and biomass of zooplankton were evaluated at four heights off the bottom and at six times throughout the diel cycle over a coral reef in the Florida Keys (USA). Zooplankton abundance averaged 4396 +/- 1949 SD individuals m(-3), but temporal and spatial distributions varied for individual zooplankton taxa by time of day and by height off the bottom. Copepods comprised 93-96% of the abundance in the samples. Taxon-based zooplankton CHN values paired with abundance data were used to estimate biomass. Average daily biomass ranged from 3.1 to 21.4 mg C m(-3) and differed by both height off the bottom and by time of day. While copepods were the numerically dominant organisms, their contribution to biomass was only 35% of the total zooplankton biomass. Our findings provide important support for the new emerging paradigm of how zooplankton are distributed over reefs.
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