Zooplankton

Zooplankton

Overview

Zooplankton icon are heterotroph
Heterotroph
A heterotroph is an organism that cannot fix carbon and uses organic carbon for growth. This contrasts with autotrophs, such as plants and algae, which can use energy from sunlight or inorganic compounds to produce organic compounds such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from inorganic carbon...

ic (sometimes detritivorous
Detritivore
Detritivores, also known as detritophages or detritus feeders or detritus eaters or saprophages, are heterotrophs that obtain nutrients by consuming detritus . By doing so, they contribute to decomposition and the nutrient cycles...

) plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water
Fresh Water
Fresh Water is the debut album by Australian rock and blues singer Alison McCallum, released in 1972. Rare for an Australian artist at the time, it came in a gatefold sleeve...

. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon , meaning "animal", and , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Individual zooplankton are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye, but some are very big such as Jellyfish.



Zooplankton is a categorisation spanning a range of organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

 sizes including small protozoa
Protozoa
Protozoa are a diverse group of single-cells eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Throughout history, protozoa have been defined as single-cell protists with animal-like behavior, e.g., movement...

ns and large metazoans.
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Encyclopedia

Zooplankton icon are heterotroph
Heterotroph
A heterotroph is an organism that cannot fix carbon and uses organic carbon for growth. This contrasts with autotrophs, such as plants and algae, which can use energy from sunlight or inorganic compounds to produce organic compounds such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from inorganic carbon...

ic (sometimes detritivorous
Detritivore
Detritivores, also known as detritophages or detritus feeders or detritus eaters or saprophages, are heterotrophs that obtain nutrients by consuming detritus . By doing so, they contribute to decomposition and the nutrient cycles...

) plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water
Fresh Water
Fresh Water is the debut album by Australian rock and blues singer Alison McCallum, released in 1972. Rare for an Australian artist at the time, it came in a gatefold sleeve...

. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon , meaning "animal", and , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Individual zooplankton are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye, but some are very big such as Jellyfish.

Ecology




Zooplankton is a categorisation spanning a range of organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

 sizes including small protozoa
Protozoa
Protozoa are a diverse group of single-cells eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Throughout history, protozoa have been defined as single-cell protists with animal-like behavior, e.g., movement...

ns and large metazoans. It includes holoplankton
Holoplankton
Holoplankton are organisms that are planktonic for their entire life cycle. Examples of holoplankton include some diatoms, radiolarians, some dinoflagellates, foraminifera, amphipods, krill, copepods, and salps.-Sources:Asexual Holoplankton:...

ic organisms whose complete life cycle
Biological life cycle
A life cycle is a period involving all different generations of a species succeeding each other through means of reproduction, whether through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction...

 lies within the plankton, as well as meroplankton
Meroplankton
Meroplankton are organisms that are planktonic for only a part of their life cycles, usually the larval stage. Examples of meroplankton include the larvae of sea urchins, sea stars, crustaceans, marine worms, some marine gastropods and most fish....

ic organisms that spend part of their lives in the plankton before graduating to either the nekton
Nekton
Nekton refers to the aggregate of actively swimming aquatic organisms in a body of water able to move independently of water currents....

 or a sessile
Sessility (zoology)
In zoology, sessility is a characteristic of animals which are not able to move about. They are usually permanently attached to a solid substrate of some kind, such as a part of a plant or dead tree trunk, a rock, or the hull of a ship in the case of barnacles. Corals lay down their own...

, benthic
Benthos
Benthos is the community of organisms which live on, in, or near the seabed, also known as the benthic zone. This community lives in or near marine sedimentary environments, from tidal pools along the foreshore, out to the continental shelf, and then down to the abyssal depths.Many organisms...

 existence. Although zooplankton are primarily transported by ambient water currents, many have locomotion
Animal locomotion
Animal locomotion, which is the act of self-propulsion by an animal, has many manifestations, including running, swimming, jumping and flying. Animals move for a variety of reasons, such as to find food, a mate, or a suitable microhabitat, and to escape predators...

, used to avoid predators (as in diel vertical migration
Diel vertical migration
Diel vertical migration, also known as diurnal vertical migration, is a pattern of movement that some organisms living in the ocean and in lakes undertake each day. Usually organisms move up to the epipelagic zone at night and return to the mesopelagic zone of the oceans or to the hypolimnion zone...

) or to increase prey encounter rate.

Ecologically
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 important protozoan zooplankton groups include the foraminifera
Foraminifera
The Foraminifera , or forams for short, are a large group of amoeboid protists which are among the commonest plankton species. They have reticulating pseudopods, fine strands of cytoplasm that branch and merge to form a dynamic net...

ns, radiolarians and dinoflagellate
Dinoflagellate
The dinoflagellates are a large group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton, but they are common in fresh water habitats as well. Their populations are distributed depending on temperature, salinity, or depth...

s (the latter are often mixotroph
Mixotroph
A mixotroph is a microorganism that can use a mix of different sources of energy and carbon. Possible are alternations between photo- and chemotrophy, between litho- and organotrophy, between auto- and heterotrophy or a combination of it...

ic). Important metazoan zooplankton include cnidaria
Cnidaria
Cnidaria is a phylum containing over 9,000 species of animals found exclusively in aquatic and mostly marine environments. Their distinguishing feature is cnidocytes, specialized cells that they use mainly for capturing prey. Their bodies consist of mesoglea, a non-living jelly-like substance,...

ns such as jellyfish
Jellyfish
Jellyfish are free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria. Medusa is another word for jellyfish, and refers to any free-swimming jellyfish stages in the phylum Cnidaria...

 and the Portuguese Man o' War
Portuguese Man o' War
The Portuguese Man o' War , also known as the Portuguese man-of-war, man-of-war, or bluebottle, is a jelly-like marine invertebrate of the family Physaliidae...

; crustaceans such as copepod
Copepod
Copepods are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. Some species are planktonic , some are benthic , and some continental species may live in limno-terrestrial habitats and other wet terrestrial places, such as swamps, under leaf fall in wet forests,...

s and krill
Krill
Krill is the common name given to the order Euphausiacea of shrimp-like marine crustaceans. Also known as euphausiids, these small invertebrates are found in all oceans of the world...

; chaetognaths (arrow worms); molluscs
Mollusca
The Mollusca , common name molluscs or mollusksSpelled mollusks in the USA, see reasons given in Rosenberg's ; for the spelling mollusc see the reasons given by , is a large phylum of invertebrate animals. There are around 85,000 recognized extant species of molluscs. Mollusca is the largest...

 such as pteropods; and chordate
Chordate
Chordates are animals which are either vertebrates or one of several closely related invertebrates. They are united by having, for at least some period of their life cycle, a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail...

s such as salp
Salp
A salp or salpa is a barrel-shaped, planktonic tunicate. It moves by contracting, thus pumping water through its gelatinous body...

s and juvenile fish. This wide phylogenetic range includes a similarly wide range in feeding behavior: filter feeding
Filter feeder
Filter feeders are animals that feed by straining suspended matter and food particles from water, typically by passing the water over a specialized filtering structure. Some animals that use this method of feeding are clams, krill, sponges, baleen whales, and many fish and some sharks. Some birds,...

, predation
Predation
In ecology, predation describes a biological interaction where a predator feeds on its prey . Predators may or may not kill their prey prior to feeding on them, but the act of predation always results in the death of its prey and the eventual absorption of the prey's tissue through consumption...

 and symbiosis
Symbiosis
Symbiosis is close and often long-term interaction between different biological species. In 1877 Bennett used the word symbiosis to describe the mutualistic relationship in lichens...

 with autotrophic phytoplankton
Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

 as seen in corals. Zooplankton feed on bacterioplankton
Bacterioplankton
Bacterioplankton refers to the bacterial component of the plankton that drifts in the water column. The name comes from the Ancient Greek word , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter" , and , a Latin neologism coined in the 19th century by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg...

, phytoplankton, other zooplankton (sometimes cannibalistically
Cannibalism (zoology)
In zoology, cannibalism is the act of one individual of a species consuming all or part of another individual of the same species as food. Cannibalism is a common ecological interaction in the animal kingdom and has been recorded for more than 1500 species...

), detritus
Detritus
Detritus is a biological term used to describe dead or waste organic material.Detritus may also refer to:* Detritus , a geological term used to describe the particles of rock produced by weathering...

 (or marine snow
Marine snow
In the deep ocean, marine snow is a continuous shower of mostly organic detritus falling from the upper layers of the water column. It is a significant means of exporting energy from the light-rich photic zone to the aphotic zone below. The term was first coined by the explorer William Beebe as he...

) and even nektonic organisms. As a result, zooplankton are primarily found in surface waters where food resources (phytoplankton or other zooplankton) are abundant.

Just as any species can be limited within a geographical region, so is zooplankton. However, species of zooplankton are not dispersed uniformly or randomly within a region of the ocean. Instead ‘patches’ of zooplankton species (this also applies to phytoplankton
Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

) exist throughout the ocean. Though few physical barriers exist above the mesopelagic
Mesopelagic
The mesopelagic is that part of the pelagic zone that extends from a depth of 200 to 1000 metres below the ocean surface. It lies between the photic epipelagic above and the aphotic bathypelagic below, where there is no light at all...

, specific species of zooplankton are strictly restricted by salinity and temperature gradients; while other species can withstand wide temperature and salinity gradients. Zooplankton patchiness can also be influenced by biological factors, as well as other physical factors. Biological factors include breeding, predation, concentration of phytoplankton, and vertical migration. The physical factor that influences zooplankton distribution the most is mixing of the water column (upwelling
Upwelling
Upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water. The increased availability in upwelling regions results in high levels of primary...

 and downwelling
Downwelling
Downwelling is the process of accumulation and sinking of higher density material beneath lower density material, such as cold or saline water beneath warmer or fresher water or cold air beneath warm air. It is the sinking limb of a convection cell. Upwelling is the opposite process and together...

 along the coast and in the open ocean) that affects nutrient availability and, in turn, phytoplankton production.

Through their consumption and processing of phytoplankton and other food sources, zooplankton play a role in aquatic food web
Food web
A food web depicts feeding connections in an ecological community. Ecologists can broadly lump all life forms into one of two categories called trophic levels: 1) the autotrophs, and 2) the heterotrophs...

s, as a resource for consumers on higher trophic level
Trophic level
The trophic level of an organism is the position it occupies in a food chain. The word trophic derives from the Greek τροφή referring to food or feeding. A food chain represents a succession of organisms that eat another organism and are, in turn, eaten themselves. The number of steps an organism...

s (including fish), and as a conduit for packaging the organic material in the biological pump
Biological pump
In oceanic biogeochemistry, the biological pump is the sum of a suite of biologically-mediated processes that transport carbon from the surface euphotic zone to the ocean's interior.-Overview:...

. Since they are typically small, zooplankton can respond rapidly to increases in phytoplankton abundance, for instance, during the spring bloom
Spring bloom
The spring bloom is a strong increase in phytoplankton abundance that typically occurs in the early spring and lasts until late spring or early summer. This seasonal event is characteristic of temperate North Atlantic, sub-polar, and coastal waters...

.

Zooplankton can also act as an disease
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

 reservoir
Natural reservoir
Natural reservoir or nidus, refers to the long-term host of the pathogen of an infectious disease. It is often the case that hosts do not get the disease carried by the pathogen or it is carried as a subclinical infection and so asymptomatic and non-lethal...

. They have been found to house the bacterium Vibrio cholerae
Vibrio cholerae
Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative, comma-shaped bacterium. Some strains of V. cholerae cause the disease cholera. V. cholerae is facultatively anaerobic and has a flagella at one cell pole. V...

, which causes cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

, by allowing the cholera vibrios to attach to their chitinous exoskeleton
Exoskeleton
An exoskeleton is the external skeleton that supports and protects an animal's body, in contrast to the internal skeleton of, for example, a human. In popular usage, some of the larger kinds of exoskeletons are known as "shells". Examples of exoskeleton animals include insects such as grasshoppers...

s. This symbiotic relationship enhances the bacterium's ability to survive in an aquatic environment, as the exoskeleton provides the bacterium with carbon and nitrogen.

See also


  • Bacterioplankton
    Bacterioplankton
    Bacterioplankton refers to the bacterial component of the plankton that drifts in the water column. The name comes from the Ancient Greek word , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter" , and , a Latin neologism coined in the 19th century by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg...

  • Biological pump
    Biological pump
    In oceanic biogeochemistry, the biological pump is the sum of a suite of biologically-mediated processes that transport carbon from the surface euphotic zone to the ocean's interior.-Overview:...

  • Census of Marine Zooplankton
    Census of Marine Zooplankton
    The Census of Marine Zooplankton is a field project of the Census of Marine Life that has aimed to produce a global assessment of the species diversity, biomass, biogeographic distribution, and genetic diversity of more than 7,000 described species of zooplankton that drift the ocean currents...

  • Diel vertical migration
    Diel vertical migration
    Diel vertical migration, also known as diurnal vertical migration, is a pattern of movement that some organisms living in the ocean and in lakes undertake each day. Usually organisms move up to the epipelagic zone at night and return to the mesopelagic zone of the oceans or to the hypolimnion zone...

  • Gelatinous zooplankton
    Gelatinous zooplankton
    Gelatinous zooplankton is the term used to describe the fragile animals that live in the water column in the ocean. They have very delicate bodies that are easily damaged or destroyed. Gelatinous zooplankton are often transparent. All jellyfish are gelatinous zooplankton, but not all gelatinous...

  • Iron fertilization
    Iron fertilization
    Iron fertilization is the intentional introduction of iron to the upper ocean to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom. This is intended to enhance biological productivity, which can benefit the marine food chain and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Iron is a trace element necessary for...

  • Ocean acidification
    Ocean acidification
    Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH and increase in acidity of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere....

  • Phytoplankton
    Phytoplankton
    Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

  • Plankton
    Plankton
    Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

  • Primary production
    Primary production
    400px|thumb|Global oceanic and terrestrial photoautotroph abundance, from September [[1997]] to August 2000. As an estimate of autotroph biomass, it is only a rough indicator of primary production potential, and not an actual estimate of it...



External links