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The different characteristics and atmospheric forces over the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea are assumed to influence zooplankton seasonality and community structure. This work aimed to characterize the abundances and seasonality of coastal and surface mesozooplankton communities in the Sea of Oman (Muscat) and the Arabian Sea (Salalah), and the effects of environmental factors on their distribution. Zooplankton samples two contrasting coastal regions; 22 in the Sea of Oman, and 20 in the Arabian Sea, were collected during 2013-2014 from the surface and analyzed. Total zooplankton abundance was divided by the number of samples to obtain the monthly average abundance per meter cube (ind•m-3) of sea water. A total of 91 species were observed from all 42 samples of which 58 were copepods, among which 47 were calanoid copepods. Species composition varied significantly between the two locations. The similarity between the two communities was highest (samples were closest to each other) during the winter, and showed the largest differences in composition in the summer. The seasonal changes in community structures were most significant for copepods and calanoid copepods (p= 0.0002 and p= 0.0003 respectively) and less significant for non-copepods (p= 0.0057). Only few species (17 in the Sea of Oman and 20 in the Arabian Sea) represented more than 90% of the total zooplankton abundance. There was a distinct pattern of seasonal variation in the abundance of zooplankton in the Arabian Sea, especially copepods and meroplankton, but there was no such pattern in the Sea of Oman. Some successful species such as Temora turbinata and Penilia avirostris in the Sea of Oman, and Oithona spp. in the Arabian Sea seem able to exploit a wide range of prey from phytoplankton to small ciliates and thus feed through the microbial loop.
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