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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Linking Spatiotemporal Variability Among Phytoplankton, Microzooplankton and Mesozooplankton in a Shallow, Microtidal Estuary
by Selle, Christin Marie, M.S., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2020, 68; 28031063
Abstract (Summary)

Zooplankton play an important trophic role in estuarine ecosystems by transferring energy from phytoplankton and other primary producers to higher levels of the food web. Changes in prey assemblage and environmental factors, such as temperature and salinity, can influence zooplankton communities. The freshwater-marine continuum of estuaries create variability in these environmental parameters. These changes can influence the communities of zooplankton due to their small sizes and life-history characteristics. Terrebonne Bay is a shallow, micro-tidal estuary that is transitioning to a more open estuary due to the erosion of its barrier islands caused by wave action and sea level rise in southeastern Louisiana. This transition to becoming more open increases the bay’s exchange with the Gulf of Mexico, potentially disruption the salinity gradient in the bay. This study conducted monthly sampling at three stations along an onshore-offshore transect from May 2018 to May 2019 to characterize zooplankton communities in Terrebonne Bay. Since plankton food webs are typically size-structured and include omnivorous animals, it was important to also understand the factors influencing different size classes and types of prey for zooplankton communities. For example, microzooplankton (20-200μm) are important intermediate consumers that may consume and transfer a majority of the primary production in estuaries to mesozooplankton (200μm – 2mm). Spatial variability in environmental conditions, nutrient concentrations, and phytoplankton communities was evident in Terrebonne Bay. However, the microzooplankton and mesozooplankton communities were not significantly different along these spatial gradients. Rather, changes in diversity (evenness and richness) and individual taxa were the main patterns observed in this data. This study highlights the importance of considering underlying food webs, in addition to environmental factors, to better understand estuarine zooplankton communities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Robinson, Kelly L., Stauffer, Beth A.
Commitee: Nelson, James A.
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Biology
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: MAI 82/9(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Ecology, Zoology
Keywords: Microtidal estuary, Louisiana, Plankton, Zooplankton
Publication Number: 28031063
ISBN: 9798597067162
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