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Plankton Marine life is classified into three groups: Plankton, Nekton, and Benthos Plankton Nekton Benthos.

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Presentation on theme: "Plankton Marine life is classified into three groups: Plankton, Nekton, and Benthos Plankton Nekton Benthos."— Presentation transcript:

1 Plankton Marine life is classified into three groups: Plankton, Nekton, and Benthos Plankton Nekton Benthos

2 Plankton Plankton refers to the drifting organisms within the pelagic zone Phytoplankton are autotrophic, photosynthetic algae, which form the base of the marine food web Zooplankton are heterotrophic; the primary (and in some cases secondary and tertiary) consumers of the marine food web

3 Plankton form the base of the marine food web

4 ‘Bottom’ of the Food Chain

5 How are plankton classified?
By Metabolism (autotrophic vs. heterotrophic) By Life History (meroplankton vs. holoplankton) By Taxonomy (Crustaceous vs. Gelatinous zooplankton, for example)

6 Phytoplankton Phytoplankton are responsible for 40% of all the world’s photosynthetic food on Earth (and 95% of all the ocean’s!) Provide ~one half of all the oxygen we breathe! Collectively, the production of organic compounds from CO2 is referred to as primary productivity

7 Phytoplankton Phytoplankton require nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus (macronutrients) but also iron (micronutrients) For this reason, phytoplankton appear in abundance (“blooms”) in regions of upwelling, where cold, nutrient-rich water reaches the photic zone


9 Global Primary Productivity

10 Localized Primary Productivity
In tropical regions, there is plenty of sunlight but productivity is limited by nutrients trapped beneath the thermocline In polar regions, there are plenty of nutrients, but sunlight (and sinking out of the photic zone via mixing) limits productivity In temperate regions, the combination of sunlight and nutrients is just right, but only seasonally!

11 Tropical Productivity Profile

12 Primary Productivity in Temperate Regions
Localized primary productivity occurs seasonally, accompanied by physical changes to the water column In temperate regions, primary productivity is limited by light (winter) and by nutrients (summer) Peak productivity occurs during spring, in an abundance of phytoplankton known as a “spring bloom”


14 Primary Productivity in Temperate Regions
During winter, nutrients are at their highest, but light is at its lowest In spring, solar energy reaching the photic zone increases and nutrients are still abundant In summer, strong warming of the water creates a seasonal thermocline which restricts nutrients from reaching the photic zone In fall, storms enhance mixing, and a second seasonal bloom results


16 Compensation Depth Net primary productivity is the amount of carbon dioxide removed via photosynthesis minus the amount of carbon dioxide released by respiration Compensation depth refers to the depth in the water column at which the rate of photosynthesis equals the rate of respiration Above this depth, phytoplankton survive Below this depth, phytoplankton die


18 Phytoplankton Phytoplankton are mostly single-celled algae (Kingdom Protista) There are 8 major types of phytoplankton, 2 of which are most prominent: Diatoms Dinoflagellates

19 Diatoms √ Dominant (>5,600 species) Composed of silica shells
Important source of nutrition for zooplankton

20 Dinoflagellates Can be autotrophic or heterotrophic!
Most are planktonic, but others form symbiotic relationships with coral (zooxanthellae) and giant clams Flagella for movement Responsible for red tides (harmful algal blooms)

21 Red Tide caused by Dinoflagellate

22 Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB’s)
Caused by dinoflagellates and other small flagellates

23 Zooplankton Zooplankton are the most numerous primary consumers in the ocean The most important source of protein in the oceans! Zooplankton eat bacteria, phytoplankton, and other zooplankton! Nearly every major animal group is represented in the zooplankton

24 Zooplankton Zooplankton are classified as either:
Holoplankton Meroplankton Holoplankton are always plankton – they live and die in the water column Meroplankton are only plankton for part of their lives; many marine organisms begin their lives as small planktonic organisms, but gain the ability to swim or metamorphose into a benthic organism

25 Once a copepod, always a copepod…
Holoplankton Once a copepod, always a copepod…

26 Meroplankton Includes larval (very young) fish, crabs, clams, squid, lobsters, starfish, etc.


28 Types of Zooplankton: Copepods
Copepods are the most abundant of all the zooplankton (70%) Holoplanktonic Crustaceous Herbivorous, Omnivorous, Carnivorous, and Parasitic Marine and freshwater

29 Copepods 14,000 species globally
You, too, can become a copepodologist! Important source of protein for secondary consumers!

30 Types of Zooplankton: Pteropods
Composed of calcium carbonate, CaCO3

31 Jellyfish and ctenophores are gelatinous zooplankton!

32 Avoiding Predation Translucence and Transparency
Outward spines for protection Swimming behavior and migration

33 The Greatest Migration on Earth
Every night at dusk, swarms of zooplankton migrate to the surface, and return to depth again at dawn Increasing Depth


35 Deep-Scattering Layer

36 How to capture zooplankton

37 Quantitative Zooplankton Tows

38 Think Like Plankton Life in a pelagic habitat (no solid substrate); 3-D Properties of water

39 Properties of Water Water is viscous, ESPECIALLY if you are a very small organisms living in it Reynolds number: Re = inertial forces viscous forces

40 Reynold’s Number For very small organisms, inertia is non-existent
Viscous forces dominate (low Reynolds number) for small organisms, such as plankton! Inertial forces dominate (high Reynolds number) for larger organisms, such as humans, large fish or whales

41 Reynolds Number


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