Zoological Studies

Vol. 54, 2015

Spatial and temporal changes in zooplankton abundance, biovolume, and size spectra in the neighboring waters of Japan: analyses using an optical plankton counter

Kaede Sato1, Kohei Matsuno2, Daichi Arima1, Yoshiyuki Abe1, and Atsushi Yamaguchi1,*

1Laboratory of Marine Biology, Graduate School of Fisheries Science, Hokkaido University, 3-1-1 Minatomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-8611, Japan
2Arctic Environmental Research Center, National Institute of Polar Research, 10-3 Midori-cho, Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan

Background: An optical plankton counter (OPC) was used to examine spatial and temporal changes in the zooplankton size spectra in the neighboring waters of Japan from May to August 2011.
Results: Based on the zooplankton biovolume of equivalent spherical diameter (ESD) in 45 bins for every 0.1 mm between 0.5 and 5.0 mm, a Bray-Curtis cluster analysis classified the zooplankton communities into six groups. The geographical distribution of each group varied from each of the others. Groups with a dominance of 4 to 5 mm ESD were observed in northern marginal seas (northern Japan Sea and Okhotsk Sea), while the least biovolume with a dominance of a small-size class (0.5 to 1 mm) was observed for the Kuroshio extension. Temporal changes were observed along the 155 E line, i.e., a high biovolume group dominated by 2 to 3 mm ESD during May shifted to other size spectra groups during July to August. These temporal changes were caused by the seasonal vertical descent of dominant large Neocalanus copepods during July to August. As a specific characteristic of the normalized biomasssize spectra (NBSS), the slope of NBSS was moderate (−0.90) for the Neocalanus dominant spring group but was at −1.11 to −1.24 for the other groups. Theoretically, the slope of the NBSS of the stable marine ecosystem is known to settle at approximately −1.
Conclusions: Based on the analysis by OPC, zooplankton size spectra in the neighboring waters of Japan were separated into six groups. Most groups had −1.11 to −1.24 NBSS slopes, which were slightly higher than the theoretical value (−1). However, one group had a moderate slope of NBSS (−0.90) caused by the dominance of large Neocalanus copepods.

Key words: NBSS; Neocalanus; OPC; Zooplankton .

*Correspondence: E-mail:  a-yama@fish.hokudai.ac.jp