Tidal exchange of zooplankton between Lough Hyne and the adjacent coast
Plankton samples collected in November 2002, February, May and August 2003 were used to examine seasonal variation in tidal exchange of zooplankton biomass, abundance and species composition between Lough Hyne Marine Nature Reserve and the adjacent Atlantic coast. Micro- to mesozooplankton were collected by pump over 24-h sampling periods during spring and neap tides from the narrow channel connecting the semi-enclosed water body to the Atlantic. Sample biomass (dry weight) and total zooplankton abundance peaked in the summer and were lowest in winter, showing a positive relationship with temperature. Zooplankton biomass, total abundance and numbers of holo- and meroplankton revealed import during some diel cycles and export in others. However, the tidal import of these planktonic components was generally dominant, especially during May. The greatest import of numbers of holoplankters and meroplanktonic larvae occurred during May and August, respectively. There was no significant variation in sample biomass between periods of light and dark, but some variation in zooplankton abundance could be explained by this diel periodicity. Significant differences in sample assemblage composition between flood and ebb tide samples were always observed, except during winter neap tides. There was a net import of the copepods Temora longicornis and Oithona helgolandica and the larval stages of Mytilus edulis during spring and summer. Proceraea cornuta and Capitellid trochophores were imported during winter, and a hydrozoan of the genus Obelia during the spring spring tides. Seasonal export from the lough was shown by Pseudopolydora pulchra larvae (autumn and spring), Serpulid trochophores (autumn) and veligers of the bivalve Anomia ephippium (summer). It is suggested that the direction of tidal exchange of meroplanktonic taxa is related to the distribution of the adult populations. Copepod naupliar stages dominated the assemblages except during May spring tides when the copepod Pseudocalanus elongatus made up over 22% of the abundance. The general import of micro- to mesozooplankton may, in part, explain the higher densities of this size-class of zooplankton within the semi-enclosed system of Lough Hyne.