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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Research Paper on Planktons

Research Paper on Planktons

The ocean covers most of the Earth’s surface and is home to thousands of marine species. Generally, people think of the marine mammals and fishes when they think about the ocean because such creatures are readily visible to the naked eye. What they fail to recognize at times is that there is a unique world in our oceans, beyond what our eyes can see, and that is the world of the plankton.  In the article Plankton by Judith Weis, she wrote that Plankton is the collective term used for drifting organisms in aquatic environments, including marine and fresh water; they can be divided according to functional groups or their trophic role: Phytoplankton, Zooplankton and Bacterioplankton.

Klappenbach discussed in Plankton what composes the different groups of plankton. Phytoplankton, being photosynthetic, are the primary producers and include small, usually unicellular algae such as diatoms, dinoflagellates, and cyanobacteria.  They live near the water surface where there is sufficient light to support photosynthesis. Zooplankton are the consumers and feed on the phytoplankton to obtain the energy and nutrients they need to survive. Zooplankton include the larval stages of fish, crustaceans and annelids. Lastly, the bacterioplankton group are the recyclers and is composed by free-floating bacteria and archaea that serve to break-down and recycle waste material in the seas.

Plankton are the foundation of the ocean’s food web. Energy from the sun is harnessed by the phytoplankton converting it into chemical energy. Such energy is transferred to the zooplankton that consume the phytoplankton and onward to the other consumers. Almost all species of fish in their larval stages rely on the zooplankton for survival. With the nourishment they get from the protein rich zooplankton, they grow and mature. Small species of fish then become the prey of larger species of fish. As with all living things, death is a part of the cycle. The dead organisms’ remains sink into the bottom of the ocean where the bacterioplankton do their work of decomposing and recycling the nutrients back to the water column for the phytoplankton to use and thus the cycle of nutrients in marine life continues. But the flow of energy in the ocean does not follow only one path, it is not a chain but a web. For instance, Krill, a zooplankton, directly feed the largest members of the ocean, baleen whales.

The increase and decrease of plankton populations dictate most of the marine species’ populations as well since they are highly dependent on plankton to survive. After all, plankton is the base and the foundation, the source of energy for marine life to flourish.

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