Ecology and Distribution of Copepods from the Salt Pan Ecosystems of Mumbai, West Coast of India
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Ecology, distribution and diversity of Copepod collected from two salt pans of Mumbai, India, are presented. Copepods, the mai zooplankton components, consisted mainly of Bestiolina similis, Acartia southwelli, Oithona sp., O. similis, O. hebes and Mesochra sp. The species distribution showed pulses and peaks with harpacticoids dominating in extreme environmental conditions. The diversity and seasonal variations of species were considered in relation to environmental conditions. The study contemplates on the modification of a diverse community of copepods of the creek salt works into a simplified ecosystem of low complexity based on the influence of environmental factors on the copepods density. The prevailing environmental conditions of the salt pan systems are unique and play a prominent role explaining about 80% of the seasonal variations in the secondary production (P<0.05). Both have emerged as independent systems maintaining their identity. Cyclopoids and harpacticoids were observed in swarms tiding over adverse conditions by dormant eggs. This study on density and diversity of copepods, for the first time in India, lacking from saltpans of India, shows dormant eggs constitute a biodiversity bank, offsetting environmental disasters and helping in repopulation and conservation.
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