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Preface I often towed astern a net made of bunting, and thus caught many curious animals. —Charles Darwin, Notes, December 1833, made during the voyage of the Beagle Marine zooplankton can be appreciated by anyone with access to the shore. Tow a net of fine mesh for five minutes in virtually any estuarine or nearshore water, and you will collect hundreds or, more likely, thousands of organisms. Most will be barely large enough to see if you put them in a jar. Slight magnification will reveal the fantastic world of zooplankton . These unlikely looking creatures astound both students and seasoned biologists with their bizarre shapes, strange movements, and rare beauty. The initial fascination and excitement generated by even a brief look at zooplankton soon leads to curiosity about what these organisms are, how they live, and how they fit into the ecological complex. Zooplankton seldom get more than a cursory examination in most marine biology courses despite their abundance and importance in marine ecosystems. This is largely because identifying these often-unfamiliar animals is difficult, especially for beginners. We have designed this guide to facilitate students’and biologists’identification of zooplankton without previous training in zooplankton systematics. Our first aim is a guide that blends scientific accuracy with ease of use. Our second aim is to provide an understanding of and appreciation for the zooplankton of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In addition to developing a general introduction to plankton biology and ecology, we have collected and synthesized the biological and ecological data relevant to each taxon. While this book is not intended for specialists, we have provided references to technical literature for more advanced users . Geographic Scope. We have included taxa commonly found in estuarine and nearshore waters from Cape Cod to Florida on the Atlantic Coast and from Florida to Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. This guide includes zooplankton that occur from the low-salinity reaches of rivers to the coastal ocean within 10 km of shore. While the zooplankton assemblage is not homogeneous through this entire range, a surprising number of the most common taxa occur throughout. Deep-ocean plankton and tropical plankton found in the Caribbean Sea and carried northward with the Gulf Stream represent distinct faunal assemblages that are beyond the scope of this guide. Taxonomic Coverage. We included the taxa most frequently encountered and most characteristic of coastal or estuarine zooplankton collections, including the common large phytoplankton and the fish larvae often retained in zooplankton nets. Most rare species are not treated here. The level of taxonomic treatment varies with the difficulty of identification . To avoid undue frustration, only taxa that can be distinguished with reasonable ease using a dissecting microscope are included. However, we provide technical references to less common species and specialized life stages. Approach to Identification. The illustrations call attention to the critical features useful for identification. Arrows enable the user to focus on the key characteristics at a glance. We emphasize features easily observed by the novice more so than those used by specialists in classification. This approach eliminates many specialized anatomical terms. We devote special attention to identification of fresh or living specimens. Often the mode of movement or the color of a zooplankton specimen provides instant clues to identification. Since size or relative size may readily distinguish similar taxa, we have included a size range with most illustrations. Biology and Ecology. Identification is the gateway to appreciating the diversity, biology, and ecology of the organisms collected. We include general background information in the “Introduction to Zooplankton” and more detailed notes on individual groups or species in the “Identification and Biology of Common Zooplankton” section. Still, this is only an introduction . Readers are encouraged to pursue areas of interest using the general texts and scientific literature cited. We strongly encourage users to start the process of identifying zooplankton with this guide by reading the section entitled “How to Use This Book to Identify Zooplankton” and then to read carefully the “Identification Hints” for each group before attempting identification. The illustrations in this book, all drawn by Marni Fylling, were inspired by a number of sources. They were usually drawn using a combination of photographs, specimens collected in the wild, experience of the authors, advice from external reviewers, and descriptions and illustrations from published literature as cited in the “Sources of Models for Illustrations” following the Index at the back of this book. x PREFACE ...


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