Dynamics of mesozooplankton assemblages in subtropical coastal waters of Hong Kong: a comparative study between a eutrophic estuarine and a mesotrophic coastal site

Mianrun Chen, Bingzhang Chen, Paul Harrison, Hongbin Liu

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27 Citations (Scopus)


A monthly comparative study of mesozooplankton biomass and composition between a eutrophic Pearl River estuarine site (WE) and a mesotrophic coastal-oceanic site (EO) in Hong Kong waters was conducted to examine the response of mesozooplankton to nutrient-rich riverine discharge. Although the annual average mesozooplankton biomass was higher at WE than at EO, they were not statistically significant. Variations of mesozooplankton biomass at both stations followed similar trends of Chl a concentrations, with the exception of July at WE where mesozooplankton biomass was low but total Chl a was high. This mismatch may be due to the high flushing effect of the Pearl River discharge in summer and a time lag in mesozooplankton population growth. On the other hand, the composition of mesozooplankton was significantly modified by riverine discharge and eutrophication conditions. While small copepods dominated at both sites, the eutrophic estuarine water had a high abundance of barnacle and polychaete larvae, while cladocerans, bivalve larvae, gastropod larvae and chaetognaths mainly occurred at EO. Eutrophication increased the top-down role of copepods in the grazing community, revealed by an increase in the percentage of copepods in the total metazoan mesozooplankton, especially during the period of high river discharge. Moreover, mesozooplankton diversity at the two stations was similar, and they both showed relatively higher diversity during autumn and winter and lower diversity during summer, especially at WE. These results suggest that, despite high nutrient and Chl a concentrations in estuarine waters, mesozooplankton biomass were not enhanced compared to coastal waters with no river impact, possibly due to poor food quality and increased predation in the eutrophic estuarine waters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1086
Number of pages12
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Issue number10
Early online date26 Mar 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011


  • eutrophication
  • Hong Kong
  • mesozooplankton
  • nutrient loading
  • Pearl River estuary

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