Investigations into zooplankton assemblages off the west coast of Scotland
Zooplankton assemblages were examined from waters off the west coast of Scotland encompassing the Firths of Lorn and Clyde, the North Channel, and the Malin Shelf. Size fractionated samples (coarse, >1000μm; medium, 1000μm-330μm; fine, 330μm-180μm) were collected with a submersible pump from 10m and 30m depth in March (1987) and May (1986) providing a composite picture of the fauna in early and late spring conditions, respectively. The feasibility of using image analysis as a method for processing zooplankton samples was examined. Although a programme was successfully operated to obtain individual measurement data, much work is still required before a fully automated programme for routine use by planktologists is available. Total zooplankton numbers and biomass, and species distributions and relative abundances were examined. Species assemblages were identified using multivariate analyses. Biomass and abundance spectra by size were examined for the major station groupings. In general, meroplankton dominated the fauna in the Firth of Lorn while large numbers of Calanus spp. occurred in the Firth of Clyde. Small copepods such as Oithona spp. were characteristic of the assemblage on the Malin Shelf. Salinity, followed by temperature, showed the strongest association with the observed station clusters. Chlorophyll a and depth did not generally appear to influence station groupings. The potential for the mixing and exchange of zooplankton between the regions of the study area was evaluated. The results suggest that zooplankton may be entrained from the Firth of Clyde by the Scottish Coastal Current during the spring period. The Malin Shelf may also be an important source of zooplankton for the Firth of Lorn during winter months when an onshore flow of Atlantic water occurs.