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Plankton community structure and connectivity in the Kimberley-Browse region of NW Australia

McKinnon, A.D., Duggan, S., Holliday, D. and Brinkman, R. (2015) Plankton community structure and connectivity in the Kimberley-Browse region of NW Australia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 153 . pp. 156-167.

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We describe the zooplankton and ichthyoplankton communities of coastal waters of the Kimberley coast (North West Australia), sampled in macrotidal Camden Sound during both the wet and dry seasons of 2011, and compare these to six other Kimberley embayments during the wet season of 2013. Zooplankton abundance in Camden Sound was 7038±3913 SD ind.m-3 in the wet season and 1892±708 SD ind.m-3 in the dry season, with copepods accounting for 85% by number. In all, 78 species of copepods were recorded, with the families Paracalanidae and Oithonidae dominant. In Camden Sound, 48 families of larval fish occurred, with ichthyoplankton more abundant in the wet season than the dry season (1.16±0.2ind.m-3 cf 0.76±0.2ind.m-3). Larval gobiids (Subfamily Gobiinae) were most abundant, with other common families associated with either pelagic or soft-bottom habitats as adults. Multivariate analyses of both copepod and ichthyoplankton communities demonstrated strong seasonal contrasts, although an along-shelf gradient in copepod community composition was apparent along the embayments sampled in 2013. There was little spatial variation in plankton communities within Camden Sound as a result of the large tidal range (up to 11.7m, with 2.5m-1 velocities), although gradients in abundance and composition on cross-shelf transects occurred in the more northern embayments that had a lower tidal range, such as Napier Broome Bay. Copepod communities of the Kimberley-Browse region were placed in regional perspective by multivariate analyses of similar data collected in the eastern Indian Ocean at Scott Reef, in the Arafura Sea and on the southern North West (NW) shelf. The plankton communities of the NW shelf form a series of along-shore metacommunities linked by advection, with weaker cross-shelf connectivity. The presence of the larvae of mesopelagic fishes of the family Myctophidae in coastal waters confirms seasonal cross-shelf connectivity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: Crown copyright © 2014
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