Biodiversity Science ›› 2011, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (6): 635-645.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2011.11120

Special Issue: Marine Biodiversity Studies in China Seas

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The past and the future of zooplankton diversity studies in China seas

Zhaoli Xu*   

  1. East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, Key Laboratory of Marine and Estuarine Fisheries Resources and Ecology Ministry of Agriculture, Shanghai 200090
  • Received:2011-07-22 Revised:2011-10-20 Online:2011-12-19
  • Zhaoli Xu

China has among the largest latitudinal ranges of any country on Earth. Environmental factors such as diverse climate, hydrology and topography jointly determine levels of marine environmental diversity and therefore patterns in zooplankton diversity in China seas. Studies of zooplankton diversity in China progressed through different stages from a main focus on species taxonomy, diversity of distribution pattern, to a focus on environment influences on the ecological group, and finally a focus on zooplankton adaptations to various environments. Topography, water mass, and monsoon occurrence were determined to be three determinate factors of marine environmental patterns in China seas. Based on this knowledge, studies on the influence of different environmental factors on zooplankton diversity have attracted more interest. The absence of consistent research protocols has led to a global bottleneck in research on environmental adaptations of zooplankton. Past difficulties in  estimating ecological parameters such as the optimum temperature and salinities of species’ distributions have been alleviated with improved field data and statistical methods. Many mathematical methods such as the yield-density model, levenberg-marquardt curve fitting, mean value theorem, and Romberg integral calculation have also been widely applied. These methods have proven useful for delineating and differentiating ecological groups as well as elucidating the factors contributing to zooplankton diversity. Future studies on zooplankton diversity should attack these questions from multiple angles including studies in different habitats, at various spatial and temporal scales, and of different taxonomic groups, biomass size spectra, and ecological groups. Finally, we predict that applied studies will become an increasingly significant field within zooplankton diversity research.

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