River discharge as a major driving force on spatial and temporal variations in zooplankton biomass and community structure in the Godavari estuary India
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Variability in horizontal zooplankton biomass distribution was investigated over 13 months in the Godavari estuary, along with physical (river discharge, temperature, salinity), chemical (nutrients, particulate organic matter), biological (phytoplankton biomass), and geological (suspended matter) properties to examine the influencing factors on their spatial and temporal variabilities. The entire estuary was filled with freshwater during peak discharge period and salinity near zero, increased to ~ 34 psu during dry period with relatively high nutrient levels during former than the latter period. Due to low flushing time (< 1 day) and high suspended load (> 500 mg L?1) during peak discharge period, picoplankton (cyanophyceae) contributed significantly to the phytoplankton biomass (Chl-a) whereas microplankton and nanoplankton (bacillariophyceae, and chlorophyceae) during moderate and mostly microplankton during dry period. Zooplankton biomass was the lowest during peak discharge period and increased during moderate followed by dry period. The zooplankton abundance was controlled by dead organic matter during peak discharge period, while both phytoplankton biomass and dead organic matter during moderate discharge and mostly phytoplankton biomass during dry period. This study suggests that significant modification of physico-chemical properties by river discharge led to changes in phytoplankton composition and dead organic matter concentrations that alters biomass, abundance, and composition of zooplankton in the Godavari estuary.
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