Alternate Title

Gastropod Larvae and Zooplankton in Reef-Related Areas of the Western Caribbean Sea

Document Type



In order to estimate the composition, distribution and abundance of zooplankton in 3 areas off the western Caribbean, samples were collected in 15 stations at South Coast and Chinchorro Bank, Mexico, and Hol-Chan Belize, from April to December 1996. Duplicate samples (2.5 m3) were collected bimonthly using a submersible pump. The pumped water was filtered through a 202 μm mesh net yielding a total of 20 zooplankton groups. Chinchorro Bank had 19 groups, South Coast had 15 groups, and Hol-Chan had 14 groups. The most abundant groups were copepods (43.1%), fish eggs (29.0%), foraminifera (12.0%), decapod larvae (5.7%) and gastropod larvae (4.3%). Twenty-seven species of gastropod larvae were identified with Natica sp. 1, Rissoina sp. 1, Cerithiopsis hero, Cerithium atratum, and Epitonium sp.1 being dominant. Newly hatched veligers of Strombus gigas were collected only at Chinchorro Bank (5.7/10m-3). Zooplankton was diverse and showed marked changes during the sampling months. Chinchorro Bank had a higher number of marine zooplankters than South Coast and Hol-Chan, and this may be related to a greater oceanic influence. In spite of the environmental homogeneity, there were differences in the distribution and abundance of Strombus veligers, and this might be related to some water characteristics locally, affecting gastropod reproduction mainly in South Coast and Hol-Chan.

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