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The Journal of Experimental Biology
Vol. 215, No: 6, 2012, Pages: 1008 - 16

Plankton distribution and ocean dispersal

McManus MA, Woodson CB

Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.


Plankton are small organisms that dwell in oceans, seas and bodies of fresh water. In this review, we discuss life in the plankton, which involves a balance between the behavioral capabilities of the organism and the characteristics and movement of the water that surrounds it. In order to consider this balance, we discuss how plankton interact with their environment across a range of scales - from the smallest viruses and bacteria to larger phytoplankton and zooplankton. We find that the larger scale distributions of plankton, observed in coastal waters, along continental shelves and in ocean basins, are highly dependent upon the smaller scale interactions between the individual organism and its environment. Further, we discuss how larger scale organism distributions may affect the transport and/or retention of plankton in the ocean environment. The research reviewed here provides a mechanistic understanding of how organism behavior in response to the physical environment produces planktonic aggregations, which has a direct impact on the way marine ecosystems function.

Keywords:Plankton are small organisms that dwell in oceans,viruses and bacteria to larger phytoplankton and zooplankton,marine ecosystems function.


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