Abstract

This review summarizes marine zooplankton research performed in the Costa Rican Pacific and Caribbean coasts and at Isla del Coco National Park. Composition, abundance, biomass, distribution and some ecological features of the zooplankton for each system is discussed. Pacific coastal zooplankton composition has been described in Bahía Salinas and Bahía Culebra. The local oceanography of these bays is heavily influenced by the Papagayo wind jet, which produces seasonal coastal upwelling and most likely drives the seasonal changes in zooplankton abundance and biomass. Copepods and ostracods were the dominant taxonomic groups throughout the year with a strong seasonality, furthermore 53 hydromedusae species has been found, where Liriope tetraphylla (Chamisso & Eysenhardt, 1821), Solmundella bitentaculata (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833) and Aglaura hemistoma (Péron & Lesueur, 1810), were the most abundant species. Zooplankton herbivory rates at Gulf of Nicoya estuary was estimated over 50 % removal of primary production. This is a typical value for tropical productive environments. Copepods numerically dominated zooplankton community from the Gulf of Nicoya. Other dominant taxa includes merozooplanktonic decapod larvae and ichthyoplankton. Biomass is high and there are strong crossshelf gradients in the Gulf. Zooplankton collected in the southern Pacific coast (close to Isla del Caño) is also dominated by copepods, while Bahía Coronado has a mixed zooplankton composition of oceanic and coastal transition waters. In Golfo Dulce, zooplankton is highly diverse and dominated by copepods, appendicularians, and ostracods. About 35 % of daily primary production is consumed by microzooplankton, and zooplankton adapt to anomalous conditions of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Coco´s Island, and other oceanic islands in the Eastern Tropical Pacific are “hot spot” of zooplankton diversity, where > 160 zooplankton species have been reported (predominantly copepods). The biomass is dominated by mesozooplankton, and new species records for the Eastern Tropical Pacific have been found in this insular ecosystem. In the other hand, early works of 1980 carried out at Caribbean coast (Cahuita National Park), show a considerably low zooplankton diversity and abundance while research at the end of the 2000 decade recognized a significant increase in zooplankton diversity, specially fish larvae. Recent zooplankton studies have added six new copepod species and several new records of species from different taxonomic groups such as appendicularians, amphipods, chaetognats, euphausiids, gastropods, and polychaetes. Future work should focus on monthly long-term monitoring programs to investigate the effects of ocean acidification and the trophic dynamics associated with fisheries. Alike, longterm studies are needed to see trends of change in planktonic communities, especially comparing areas under human activity in the coastal zone (tourism, port, urban development) with protected areas as targets for study. An increase of sampling efforts must be done in the relatively understudied Northern Caribbean coast.