Project Topic {Species Composition And Distribution Of Zooplankton In Estuary}

Project Topic {Species Composition And Distribution Of Zooplankton In Estuary}

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Project Topic {Species Composition And Distribution Of Zooplankton In Estuary}

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Species composition and distribution of zooplankton in the lower cross river estuary

Abstract on Species Composition And Distribution Of Zooplankton In The Lower Cross River Estuary

Species composition, spatial distribution, abundance and diversity of zooplankton in the Cross River estuary were investigated over a period of 24 months. A total of 61 taxa belonging to eleven phyla were identified. Copepoda was the most abundant, with 17 taxa followed by the Cladocera with 11 taxa. Overall contribution of crustaceans to the total zooplankton population was 74.16%, while Chaetognaths and Cnidarians contributed 6.3% and 6.1% respectively. Densities ranged from 40 organisms/| to 1,660 organisms/l. Copepod presence was high in all the sampling zones but more in the lower reaches of the estuary. Cladocerans, Ciliates and Rotifers were more important in the upper reaches of the estuary, whereas the Cnidarians and Chaetognaths were absent upstream but highly abundant in the downstream reaches. Zooplankton composition showed significant spatial variation (p < 0.05) in taxa occurrence and density across the sampling zones.
Copepods had the highest dominance value of 0.73, followed by Cladocera with 0.51. Jaccard’’s coefficient of similarity of species revealed dissimilarity between the upper reach stations and the lower reaches. Taxa richness was highest in the lower reach station 6 with a value of 6.79. A general trend of increase in species diversity and richness from upstream to downstream was observed. Inter-and intra-specific relationship revealed highly significant positive correlation (p < 0.01) between Cnidarians and Copepods (r = 0.896), Cladocerans (r — 0.841) and between chaetognaths and Copepods (r = 0.725, P < 0.05) and Cladocerans (r = 0.451, P < 0.05). Paucity of zooplankton in terms of occurrence and abundance at certain sampling locations of higher proximity to household and industrial effluent sources is indicative of anthropogenic perturbations.

Keywords: Zooplankton, abundance, distribution, diversity, estuary


Introduction on Project Topic {Species Composition And Distribution Of Zooplankton In Estuary}

Earlier reports of zooplankton in this area were not detailed. The paucity of data on zooplankton in Zooplankton occupy an important trophic niche in this area has necessitated this study.

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The aquatic ecosystem, as they constitute the most important link in energy transfer between MATERIALS AND METHODS phytoplankton and higher aquatic fauna (Hickman et al, 2001; Iloba, 2002). Whilst they exert tremendous grazing pressure on the phytoplankton, they constitute an invaluable source of protein, amino acids, lipids, fatty acids, minerals and enzymes and are therefore an inexpensive ingredient to replace fish meal for cultured fish (Kibria ef al, 1997; Ovie and Eyo, 1994; Fernando, 1994). Also, zooplankton importance has been underscored in their use as biological indicators of aquatic environmental perturbation (Rutherford et a/, 1999; Soberan et ai, 2000; King and Jonathan, 2003; Abowei and Sikoki, 2005). Studies on zooplankton have been carried out extensively in other waters in Nigeria (Oronsaye, 1993; Ovie, 1993; Oronsaye and Egborge, 1996) but there is very little documented information on zooplankton in the Cross River.


Study Area

The Cross River estuary lies between longitudes 8°00’E and 8°40’E and between latitudes 4°30’N and 5°15’N of the equator. The river system is formed by a number of tributaries among which are Calabar River, Great Kwa River and Akpa Yafe River, with extensive flood plains and wetlands to empty into the estuary (Fig. 1). The river system, with an estimated area of 54,000km2, out of which 39,000km2 lies in Nigeria (Moses 1979) is one of the ricnest fisheries zones in Nigeria producing 8,000 tonnes of fish and 20,000 tones of shrimps annually (Moses 2000). Moses (2000) further noted that the estuary constitutes one of the richest sources of shrimp fisheries in Nigeria yielding the best quality shrimps. The high level of fish production from this estuary is a direct function of the high level of food resources for fish expressed in abundance of planktonic food organisms. 6 A. O. Ekwu and F. D. Sikoki


The study area was delineated into six sampling stations, located progressively over a salinity gradient, ranging from freshwater with less than 0.5°/o9 (sampling zone A, stations 1 and 2) through brackish water with about 12°/o. (sampling zone B, stations 3 and 4) to marine environment with up to 21°%o9 (sampling zone C; stations 5 and 6).


Monthly samples were collected from the six (6) stations over a period of 24 months (March 1998 to February 2000). Trawl samples were collected from each station using a towing plankton net attached to a slow moving boat and fixed immediately with 4% hexamine buffered formalin to preserve the organisms.
Identification was done both by gross visual examination. on the plankton net and microscopic examination of sediment samples. Enumeration and microscopic identification were performed using a Zeis inverted microscope at x 200 x 400 and x 1000 magnification. Identification guides used were those provided by Newell and Newell (1977), Maosen (1978), Kasturirangan (1983), APHA (1985) and Badejo (1998).


Determination of zooplankton biomass by biovolume was done by using the sample configuration that best fits the shape of the organism being measured, such as sphere, cone or cylinder. An average measurement was taken from 20 individuals of each species of a particular sample. The total biovolume of each species was calculated by multiplying the average ceil volume in cubic micrometers by the number per litre.

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Total Biovolume was computed as:-

V, (Nx) i=l


Vt = Total plankton cell volume (mm* /L),

N; = Number of organisms of the i i ” species/L,

V, = Average volume of cells of i’ ” Species (mm*/L)

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A total of 66 species of zooplankton belonging to 11 phyla were identified including: Arthropoda, Rotifera, Ciliophora, Sarcomastigophora, Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Chaetognatha, Nematoda, Annelida, Mollusca and Vertebrata (Table 1). The Crustacean subclass Copepoda was the most abundant group with 17 taxa followed by the subclass Cladocera with 11 taxa. The Rotifers had 9 taxa, the Ciliates and Chaetognaths had 6 taxa and 5 taxa respectively while the other groups were poorly represented. Zooplankton densities ranged from 40 organisms/L to 1,660 organisms/L; overall contribution of Crustaceans to zooplankton population was 74.16% followed by chaetognaths, ciliates and cnidarians with 7.47%, 6.33% and 6.12% respectively. Copepod crustaceans showed the highest abundance, constituting 71.05% of total zooplankton population (Fig. 2). 7 A. O. Ekwu and F.D.Sikoki Afr. J. of Appl. Zool. & Environ, Biol. 2005. Vol. 7


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Table 2 shows the indices of diversity, taxa richness and evenness of species distribution while Table 3 shows values of dominance of the zooplankton species. Copepods had. the highest dominance value of 0.73, followed by cladocerans with of 0.51. Both Cnidarians and Chaetognaths had a dominance value of 0.30, while ciliates and Rotifers had 0.08 and 0.15 respectively. The other taxonomic groups (Ctenophores, Annelids and Nematodes) had very low dominance values and could therefore be regarded as rare species. Diversity and taxa richness showed a general trend of progressive increase from the upper reach stations (SZA) to the lower reach stations (SZC) (Table 3). This is probably attributed to introduction of more organisms into Sampling zone C from the adjacent sea. ; Jaccard’s coefficient of similarity (Table 4) showed high degree of closeness between stations 1 and 2


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The observed broad spectrum of phyla represented in the zooplankton of the estuary is indicative of a rich content of aquatic biodiversity. Also, the generally high abundance and taxa richness observed is suggestive of high secondary productivity of the area, which corroborates the report of Moses (2000).


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We are grateful to the Management and Staff of the Institute of Oceanography, University of Calabar, for making available to us, the laboratory facilities used for this study.

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