Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs, reefs 30–150 m) are understudied, yet the limited research conducted has been biased towards large sessile taxa, such as scleractinian corals and sponges, or mobile taxa such as fishes. Here we investigate zooplankton communities on shallow reefs and MCEs around Utila on the southern Mesoamerican Barrier Reef using planktonic light traps. Zooplankton samples were sorted into broad taxonomic groups. Our results indicate similar taxonomic zooplankton richness and overall biomass between shallow reefs and MCEs. However, the abundance of larger bodied (>2 mm) zooplanktonic groups, including decapod crab zoea, mysid shrimps and peracarid crustaceans, was higher on MCEs than shallow reefs. Our findings highlight the importance of considering zooplankton when identifying broader reef community shifts across the shallow reef to MCE depth gradient.
Honduras - Bay Islands
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)