By Bob Goemans
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Zooplankton of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, A Guide to Their Identification and Ecology

Authored by: William S. Johnson & Dennis M. Allen

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: Zooplankton of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, A Guide to Their Identification and Ecology

AUTHOR: William S. Johnson & Dennis M. Allen

PUBLISHER: The John Hopkins University Press

ISBN 0-8018-8019X (hardcover) - 0-8018-8168 (paperback)

PAGES: 380

PRICE: $80.00 (hardcover) - $44.95 (paperback)

It could be said a marine scientist instead of a long-term marine hobbyist should have written this book review. However, if it would have gone that direction its quite possible it would have then possibly resulted in the value of this work being overlooked from a hobbyist's standpoint! I'm sure those in the scientific community will appreciate the authors work. But as a non-scientist, yet someone with over fifty years experience in the hobby, I'm of the opinion that most hobbyists are a special breed of people who are striving to better understand the dynamics of closed system husbandry. And even though this is not what I would call a book of great interest for all marine hobbyists, it is one that should be given a read if the goal is to understand the planktonic food web that keeps many of our prized captive sealife well nourished in the wild. In fact, the biggest problem in keeping many of our prized fish and invertebrate species healthy in closed systems is in part due to the lack of duplicating Mother Nature's flow of planktonic food forms that exist in the wild. And if the goal is to provide your cherished corals and other forms of sealife a more nutritious existence, then reading this work may be quite helpful, since the more we know about what occurs in the wild the more we become capable of caring for these animals in captivity.

The authors begin with a 'Preface' noting their work has been designed for the identification of zooplankton by students and biologists without previous training in zooplankton systematics, and blends scientific accuracy with ease of use. They go on to say their "guide" presents a general introduction to plankton biology and ecology, and includes the taxa generally 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. Also noted here is that included in their work are the most frequently encountered coastal or estuarine zooplankton collections, including the common large phytoplankton and fish larvae often collected in zooplankton nets. The authors go on to mention that their "many" excellent illustrations (over 200) denote critical features useful for accurate identification. The "Acknowledgements" section follows and pays tribute to those who have helped the authors write and publish this immense work.

The remainder of the book is basically divided into two major segments. The first, "INTRODUCTION TO ZOOPLANKTON" discusses both Phytoplankton and Zooplankton. Its first subsection, "Adaptations to Planktonic Life" has four subtopics - Feeding; Locomotion; Vertical Migrations; and, Defense. The "Adaptations of Planktonic Larvae" subsection follows and discusses larval forms of benthic invertebrates such as worms, crabs, shrimp, bivalves, etc. The next subsection, "Factors Affecting Zooplankton Distribution" is subdivided into three topics. The first is titled 'Plankton Distribution and Ocean Currents.' The second, 'Coastal Waters' is subdivided into three topics - Thermoclines and Coastal Stratification: Invisible Boundaries; Cross-Shelf Transport to Nearshore and Estuarine Areas; and, Tides and Tidal Currents. The third topic, Coastal Embayments, is also subdivided into two topics - Salinity and Estuarine Stratification; and, Benthic Habitats and Zooplankton Distribution.

"Estuarine and Coastal Planktonic Food Webs" is the next subsection and is divided into two topics - Primary Productivity; and, Planktonic Food Webs, which contains the subtitles The Classic Phytoplankton > Herbivore Food Web; The Microbial Loop; and, Food Web Dynamics.

The next subsection is titled "Brief History of Zooplankton Research" and contains two topics - Pioneers in Zooplankton Research; and, Collection Techniques: Old and New. The ladder contains the subtitles Plankton Nets; Plankton Pumps, Traps, and New Technologies; and, Automated Plankton Samplers, Acoustic, and Video Techniques.

The first segment's last subsection is titled "Zooplankton and Environmental Quality" and contains four topics - Hypoxia; Harmful Algal Blooms; Invasive Introduced Species; and, Global Warming. This segment ends with "Selected Reading." And I should note here, one would think with all the topics covered so far, it would seem like the reader should have progressed through the first 100 pages. Not so, as all of the above fills 'only' the first 38 pages, and does so in great detail.

The work's second major segment is titled "IDENTIFICATION AND BIOLOGY OF COMMON ZOOPLANKTON" and contains a very wide array of extremely interesting information, and a wonderful assortment of excellent sketches as does the first segment. Its subjects are titled: How to Use This Book to Identify Zooplankton; Quick Picks; Phytoplankton; Protoplankton; Cnidarians: Anemones, Jellyfishes, and related Metazoans; Hydrozoans; Scyphozoans and Cubozoans; Ctenophores: Comb Jellies and Sea Walnuts; Rotifers; Cirripedes: Barnacle Larvae; Cladocerns and Ostracods; Copepods; Mysids: Opossum Shrimps; Amphipods, Isopods, and Cumaceans; Decapods: Shrimp, Crabs, and related Crustaceans; Stomatopods: Mantis Shrimp; Sea Spiders, Mites, and Insects; Annelids: Polychaetes, Oligochaetes, Leeches, and Nematodes; Mollusca: Snails, Bivalves, and Squids; Chaetognaths: Arrow Worms; Echinoderm Larvae: Starfishes and Sea Urchins; Less Common Ciliated Invertebrate Larvae; Lower Chordates: Sea Squirts, Larvaceans, Salps, Doliolids, and Lancelets; and, Fish Larvae.

Relaxing, Fixing, and Preserving Zooplankton; Sample Processing and Data Analysis; and, Regional Zooplankton Surveys.

The work completes with a Glossary, Literature Cited, and Index.

WOW is probably not the word I'm looking for, but will still adequately convey my thoughts when I finished reading this massive and thorough look into the world of these tiny plant and animal wanders commonly called 'Plankton.' I'm very sure the more scientific minded will find this work informative and up to date. And where marine hobbyists are concerned, a work that will enhance their understanding of this important food web in the wild and help properly identify its various members. Although a little pricey, it's still a good read as it improves our captive system knowledge by helping us to better understand the planktonic food web in the wild.

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