Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

A Census of Marine Zooplankton in the Tropical/Subtropical Atlantic from the Surface to 5000 m.

Event Name/Location

EOS Trans. AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, December 11-15, 2006

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Zooplankton from tropical/subtropical waters in the Atlantic Ocean were sampled from the surface to 5000 m, with a particular focus on the mesopelagic, bathypelagic, abyssopelagic zones. Sampling, on a cruise sponsored by the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program and the Census of Marine Life, was conducted at five stations from the northern Sargasso Sea to the equatorial waters northeast of Brazil. Environmental data and zooplankton samples were collected using three Multiple Opening/Closing Nets and Environmental Sensing Systems (MOCNESS): a 10-m opening/closing trawl with 335-um mesh nets sampled from 5000 to 1000 m and two smaller MOCNESS with similar or smaller mesh sampled the upper 1000 m. Ring net and water bottle casts, and blue-water SCUBA diving were also carried out. Samples were analyzed at sea using traditional morphological taxonomic approaches by a team of experts, followed by molecular systematic analysis, including determination of a DNA barcode (i.e., short DNA sequence for species recognition) for each species. Over 500 species were identified onboard ship; more than 1000 specimens were placed in a queue for barcoding; 87 species were barcoded at sea. For several taxonomic groups, a significant fraction of the region's species were collected and identified. Sixty-five species of planktonic ostracods were identified at sea out of the 140 known for the North Atlantic Ocean, with at least six undescribed species collected and the first DNA barcode for a planktonic ostracod obtained. At-sea analysis of samples also yielded identified specimens for more than 40 species of molluscs (pteropods, heteropods, etc.), more than 100 species of jellyfish, several hundred species of copepods, and more than 100 species of fish. In all, taxonomists estimated that at least 12 - 15 new species will be described from this effort. The special deployment of trawls to sample large volumes at great depths for small zooplankton yielded preliminary confirmation that species diversity is high (with many more species yet to be captured and studied), but abundance is low.


Eos Trans. AGU, 87(52), Fall Meet. Suppl.

Additional Comments

Identifier OS34A-07