Environmental conditions drive zooplankton community structure in the epipelagic oceanic water of the southern Gulf of Mexico: A molecular approach

Francesco Cicala, María C. Arteaga, Sharon Z. Herzka, Clara M. Hereu, Sylvia P.A. Jimenez-Rosenberg, Anaid Saavedra-Flores, Javier Robles-Flores, Ricardo Gomez, Paola G. Batta-Lona, Clara E. Galindo-Sánchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Zooplankton plays a pivotal role in sustaining the majority of marine ecosystems. The distribution patterns and diversity of zooplankton provide key information for understanding the functioning of these ecosystems. Nevertheless, due to the numerous cryptic and sibling species and the lack of diagnostic characteristics for early developmental stages, the identification of the global-to-local patterns of zooplankton biodiversity and biogeography remains challenging in different research fields. The spatial and temporal changes in the zooplankton community in the open waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico were assessed using metabarcoding analysis of the V9 region of 18S rRNA and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase c subunit I (COI). Additionally, a multiscale analysis was implemented to evaluate which environmental predictors may explain the variability in the structure of the zooplankton community. Our findings suggest that the synergistic effects of dissolved oxygen concentration, temperature, and longitude (intended as a proxy for still unidentified predictors) may explain both spatial and temporal zooplankton variability even with low contribution. Furthermore, the zooplankton distribution probably reflects the coexistence of three heterogeneous ecoregions and a bio-physical partitioning of the studied area. Finally, some taxa were either exclusive or predominant with either 18S or COI markers. This may suggest that comprehensive assessments of the zooplankton community may be more accurately met by the use of multilocus approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-561
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

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