|Local:||IPMA Algés Lisboa|
The Northwestern Iberian shelf (38.4º to 41.6ºN) was sampled in November 2013 in the frame of
the project CERTIFICA to study the mesozooplankton community and to relate their spatial pattern to
the prevalent hydrographic conditions. This work presents the first description of the copepod
species abundance and distribution pattern in a broad area off Western Iberia during autumn, when
spawning begins for the pelagic fish. Copepods represented 89.6% of the total mesozooplankton
numerical abundance. Three different groups were identified according to taxa abundance and
distribution: a northern coastal group (NCG), a southern coastal group (SCG), and a shelf group
(SG), each delimited to areas with distinct oceanographic conditions.
Additionally, the taxa distribution was analyzed in relation to biophysical variables (temperature, salinity, Chla). Total copepod distribution showed a pattern of two main abundance peaks in the northern and southern coastal stations that may be explained by two factors separately: the high precipitation values near the Douro basin typical of the beginning of autumn and the peak of upwelling detected before and during the survey which can be the driver of the southern abundances. These findings may contribute to understand the dynamics of zooplankton in the area during autumn, which can be relevant not only to increase the knowledge concerning the plankton communities itself but also to provide an idea on their potential as food source for small pelagic fish species and their larval stages growing in the area throughout the season.