An Analysis of Zooplankton Populations within Barnegat Bay


Zooplankton include the many current-bound organisms of marine ecosystems that influence community structure and food webs. This definition extends to the crustacean, cnidarian, ctenophore, and teleost plankton that frequent Barnegat Bay. In order to observe the zooplankton populations within Barnegat Bay, plankton net and lift net sampling was done at Berkeley Shores Lagoon, Sunrise Beach Lagoon, Forked River Lagoon, and Bay Shore Lagoon during June and July of 2021. Water quality data were also collected at these sites. All sites showed similar temperatures and dissolved oxygen, but Berkley Shores showed a substantially lower salinity among sites. Results from the plankton tows showed that both Forked River and Berkley Shores had high densities of bay nettles and comb jellies. Other taxa which showed high densities include calanoid copepods, shrimp larvae, and crab larvae. These crustaceans showed inverse relationships with the gelatinous species, showing the top-down impacts of jellies. Results from the lift net samples showed high densities of bay nettles from Forked River and Berkley Shores. The comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi was abundant in June, but was absent in July at the sites with high bay nettle densities, demonstrating the predation of Bay nettles on comb jellies. While these data are only a snapshot of conditions within these lagoons, it is clear that Bay Nettles have a substantial impact on the overall zooplankton community.


Anthony Tamberelli

Student Grant Awardee 2021