Seasonal variability of gelatinous zooplankton during an anomalously warm year at Cabo Pulmo National Park, Mexico
Silveyra-Bustamante, Angel Antonio
Mendoza-Becerril, María A.
The seasonal variability of gelatinous zooplankton (siphonophores, medusae, and thaliaceans) abundance was investigated at Cabo Pulmo National Park (CPNP) from weekly zooplankton samples collected throughout 2014. The Gulf of California had prolonged warming during 2009-2019, with 2014 as the anomalously warm year preceding El Niño 2015-2016 compared to the 2003-2020 SST time series. Gelatinous zooplankton accounted <1% of the entire zooplankton community abundance at CPNP during 2014, suggesting a low influence of predation pressure upon their zooplanktonic and micronekton preys. Siphonophores (57%), thaliaceans (42%), and medusae (1%) were present throughout the year. The abundance of gelatinous zooplankton had a significant negative association with sea surface temperature and a positive association with sea surface chlorophyll-a concentration and velocity and direction of the wind, increasing their abundance during October after the hurricane season. The gelatinous zooplankton species assemblage at the coastal CPNP was similar but less abundant than the gelatinous zooplankton species assemblage observed in the oceanic region of the southern Gulf of California during summer 2014. Tropical species Diphyes dispar, Abylopsis tetragona, Chelophyes contorta, and Thalia spp. numerically dominated the gelatinous zooplankton community associated with a regional heatwave period recorded during 2014. A high proportion of tropical zooplankton indicates that mesotrophic conditions sustain the current high biomass and diversity of nektonic and benthonic planktophagous fauna inhabiting CPNP. However, prolonged warming events might decrease zooplankton biomass in the southern region of the Gulf of California in the future.