Autores: Francesco Cicala, María Clara Arteaga, Sharon Z. Herzka, Clara María Hereu C, Sylvia P. A. Jimenez-Rosenberg, Anaid Saavedra-Flores, Javier Robles-Flores, Ricardo Gomez, Paola Gabriela Batta-Lona, Clara E. Galindo-Sánchez


Zooplankton plays a pivotal role in sustaining the majority of marine ecosystems. The distribution patterns and diversity of zooplankton provide key information for understanding the functioning of these ecosystems. Nevertheless, due to the numerous cryptic and sibling species and the lack of diagnostic characteristics for early developmental stages, the identification of the global-to-local patterns of zooplankton biodiversity and biogeography remains challenging in different research fields. The spatial and temporal changes in the zooplankton community in the open waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico were assessed using metabarcoding analysis of the V9 region of 18S rRNA and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase c subunit I (COI). Additionally, a multi-scale analysis was implemented to evaluate which environmental predictors may explain the variability in the structure of the zooplankton community. Our findings suggest that the synergistic effects of dissolved oxygen concentration, temperature, and longitude (intended as a proxy for still unidentified predictors) may explain both spatial and temporal zooplankton variability even with low contribution. Furthermore, the zooplankton distribution likely reflects the coexistence of three heterogeneous ecoregions and a bio-physical partitioning of the studied area. Finally, some taxa were either exclusive or predominant with either 18S or COI markers. This may suggest that comprehensive assessments of the zooplankton community may be more accurately met by the use of multi-locus approaches.