Revista de Biología Tropical ISSN Impreso: 0034-7744 ISSN electrónico: 2215-2075

Changes in abundance and composition of a Caribbean coral reef zooplankton community after 25 years
PT 64-3 set 2016


Caribbean coast
costa Caribeña

How to Cite

Carrillo Baltodano, A. M., & Morales Ramírez, Álvaro. (2016). Changes in abundance and composition of a Caribbean coral reef zooplankton community after 25 years. Revista De Biología Tropical, 64(3), 1029–1040.


Coral reef zooplankton represents a key community in coral ecosystems, as they are involved in trophic and biogeochemical dynamics, and recruitment processes. Zooplankton abundance, composition and biomass were surveyed at six stations within the coral reef at Cahuita National Park, Limon, Costa Rica, in order to compare with the only previous study conducted during 1984. Samples were collected monthly (September 2010-August 2011). Seston biomass (0.49-85.87 mg/m3) and total abundance (1 145-112 422 ind./m3) fluctuated among the months and the stations. Higher values of these two variables were found in the rainiest months (November 2010 and May 2011). A total of 38 taxa were identified, of which calanoid copepods abundance dominated year round (66 %), followed by appendicularians (12 %). Zooplankton mean abundance in this survey resulted 20 times higher (13 184 ± 4 104 ind./m3)than in 1984 (645 ± 84 ind./m3). Copepods and appendicularians were the groups that differed the most, relative to the 1984 study, resulting in 63 and 170 times more abundant overall, respectively. An increase in terrestrial runoff and nutrient input during the past 30 years could explain these differences. High abundances of zooplankton may constitute an important food source for coral reef organisms in Cahuita ecosystem. In addition, zooplankton abundances here reported for Cahuita are among the worldwide highest coral reef zooplankton abundances, and further trophic models can help elucidate its role in coral reef resilience in the Caribbean Coast of Central America.


Alldredge, A. L., & King, J. M. (2009). Near-surface enrichment of zooplankton over a shallow back reef: implication for coral reef food webs. Coral Reefs, 28, 895-908.

Álvarez-Cardena, J. N., Ordóñez-López, U., Valdés-Lozano, D., Almaral-Mendívil, A. R., & Uicab-Sabido, A. (2007). Estudio anual del zooplancton: composición, abundancia, biomasa e hidrología del norte de Quintana Roo, mar Caribe de México. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 78, 421-430.

Beers, J. R. (1981). Determinación de la biomasa del zooplancton. In D. Boltovskoy (Ed.), Atlas del zooplancton marino del Atlántico Occidental y métodos de trabajo con el zooplancton marino (pp. 133-142). Leiden: Backhuy Publishers.

Boltovskoy, D. (1981). Atlas del zooplancton marino del Atlántico Occidental y métodos de trabajo con el zooplancton marino. Leiden: Backhuy Publishers.

Castellanos, I. A., & Suárez-Morales, E. (1997). Observaciones sobre el zooplancton de la zona arrecifal de Mahahual, Quintana Roo (Mar Caribe mexicano). Anales del Instituto de Biología. Serie Zoología, 68, 237-252.

Cortés, J., Fonseca, A. C., Nivia-Ruiz, J., Nielsen-Muñoz, V., Samper-Villareal, J., Salas, E., Martínez, S., & Zamora-Trejos, P. (2010). Monitoring coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves in Costa Rica (CARICOMP). Revista de Biología Tropical, 58, 1-22.

Cortés, J., & Risk, M. J. (1985). A reef under siltation stress: Cahuita, Costa Rica. Bulletin of Marine Science, 36, 339-356.

D’Croz, L., del Rosario, J. B., & Góndola, P. (2005). The effect of fresh water runoff on the distribution of dissolved inorganic nutrients and plankton in the Bocas del Toro archipiélago, Caribbean Panama. Caribbean Journal of Science, 41, 414-429.

Fonseca, A. C., Salas, E., & Cortés, J. (2006). Monitoreo del arrecife coralino Meager Shoal, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica (sitio CARICOMP). Revista de Biología Tropical, 54, 755-763.

Gasca, R., & Suárez, E. 1996. Introducción al estudio del zooplancton marino. México: El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)/CONACYT.

Gallienne, C. P., & Robins, D. B. (2001). Is Oithona the most important copepod in the world’s oceans? Journal of Plankton Research, 23, 1421-1432.

González, N., M., Muller-Karger, F. E., Estrada, S. C., de los Reyes, R. P., del Rio, I. V., Pérez, P. C., & Arenal, I. M. (2000). Near-surface phytoplankton distribution in the Western Intra-Americas Sea: the influence of El Niño and weather events. Journal of Geophysical Research, 105, 14029-14043.

Grorud-Colvert, K., & Sponaugle, S. (2009). Larval supply and juvenile recruitment of coral reef fishes to marine reserves and non-reserves of the upper Florida Keys, USA. Marine Biology, 156, 277-288.

Hammer, Ø., Harper, D. A., & Ryan, P. D. (2001). PAST: Paleontological Statistics software package for education and data analysis. Paleontologica Electronica, 4, 1-9.

Hammer, W. M., & Carleton, J. H. (1979). Copepod swarms: attributes and role in coral reef ecosystems. Limnology and Oceanography, 24, 1-14.

Hopcroft, R. R., & Roff, J. C. (1998). Production of tropical larvaceans in Kingston Harbour, Jamaica: are we ignoring an important secondary producer? Journal of Plankton Research, 20, 557-569.

Hughes, T. P., Baird, A. H., Dinsdale, E. A., Moltschaniwskyj, N. A., Pratchett, M. S., Tanner, J. E., & Willis, B. L. (2000). Supply-side ecology works both ways: the link between benthic adults, fecundity, and larval recruits. Ecology, 81, 2241-2249.

Hulsemann, K. (1996). Copepoda. En R. Gasca & E. Suárez (Eds.), Introducción al estudio del zooplancton marino (pp. 249-295). México: El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)/CONACYT.

Kovach Computer Services. (2004). Multi Variate Statistical Package (MVSP Version 3.13I). Retrieved from:

McKinnon, A. D., Richardson, A. J., Burford, M. A., & Furnas, M. J. (2007). Vulnerability of Great Barrier Reef plankton to climate change. In J. E. Johnson, & P. A. Marshall (Eds.), Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef (pp. 121-152). Townsville, Australia: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Mora-Cordero, C., & Chavaría, J. B. (2009). Factores que afectan la cuenca del río La Estrella y recomendaciones para la gestión ambiental en su zona costera (Caribe de Costa Rica). Revista de Biología Tropical, 56, 191-203.

Morales, A., & Murillo, M. M. (1996). Distribution, abundance and composition of coral reef zooplankton, Cahuita National Park, Limon, Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 44, 619-630.

Morales-Ramírez, Á., Suárez-Morales, E., Corrales-Ugalde, M., & Garrote, O. E. (2014). Diversity of the free-living marine and freshwater Copepoda (Crustacea) in Costa Rica: a review. ZooKeys, 457, 15-33.

Nakajima, R., Yoshida, T., Ross, B. H., & Toda, T. (2010). High detritus/phytoplankton content in net-plankton samples from coral reef water: source of over-estimation in zooplankton biomass by measuring seston weight. Plankton & Benthos Research, 5, 69-73.

Nielsen-Muñoz, V., & Cortés, J. (2008). Abundancia, biomasa y floración de Thalassia testudinum (Hydrocharitaceae) en el Caribe de Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 56, 175-189.

Ohlhorst, S. L. (1985). Reef zooplankton collected along a depth gradient at Discovery Bay, Jamaica. The Ecology of Coral Reefs, 3, 101-116.

Oliva-Rivera, J., & de Jesús-Navarrete, A. (2000). Composición, distribución y abundancia de larvas de moluscos gastrópodos en el sur de Quintana Roo, México y norte de Belice. Revista de Biología Tropical, 48, 777-783.

Poulin, E., Boletzky, S., & Féral, J. P. (2001). Combined ecological factors permit classification of developmental patterns in benthic marine invertebrates: a discussion note. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 257, 109-115.

Quesada-Alpízar, M., & Morales-Ramírez, A. (2006). Posible efecto de El Niño en el zooplancton no gelatinoso del Golfo Dulce, Pacífico de Costa Rica, 1997-1998. Revista de Biología Tropical, 54, 225-240.

R Core Team (2014). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.

Robichaux, D. M., Cohen, A. C., Reaka, M. L., & Allen, D. (1981). Experiments with zooplankton on coral reefs, or will the real demersal plankton please come up? Marine Ecology Pubblicazioni della Stazione Zoologica di Napoli I, 2, 77-94.

Roder, C., Cortés, J., Jiménez, C., & Lara, R. (2009). Riverine input of particulate material and inorganic nutrients to a coastal reef ecosystem at the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 58, 1937-1943.

Roman, M. R., Furnas, M. J., & Mullin, M. M. (1990). Zooplankton abundance and grazing at Davies Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Biology, 105, 73-82.

Rose, K., Roff, J. C., & Hopcroft, R. R. (2004). Production of Penilia avirostris in Kingston Harbour, Jamaica. Journal Plankton Research, 26, 605-615.

Silva-Benavides, M. (1986). Productividad primaria, biomasa del fitoplancton y la relación con parámetros físico-químicos en el arrecife coralino del Parque Nacional Cahuita (Tesis de licenciatura). Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica.

Suárez-Morales, E., Carrillo, A., & Morales-Ramírez, A. (2013) Report on some Monstrilloids (Crustacea, Copepoda) from a reef area off the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, Central America with descriptions of two new species. Journal of Natural History, 47, 619-638.

Smith, D. L., & Johnson, K. B. (1996). A guide to marine coastal plankton and marine invertebrate larvae. Iowa: Kendall Hunt Pub. Co.

Webber, M. K., Roff, J. C., Chisholm, L. A., & Clarke, C. (1996). Zooplankton distributions and community structure in an area of the south coast shelf of Jamaica. Bulletin of Marine Science, 59, 259-270.

Yoshioka, P. M., Owen, G. P., & Pesante, D. (1985). Spatial and temporal variations in Caribbean zooplankton near Puerto Rico. Journal of Plankton Research, 7, 733-751.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2016 Revista de Biología Tropical


Download data is not yet available.