Important part of global carbon cycle



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Important part of global carbon cycle

  • Important part of global carbon cycle

  • Food source (basis of the food web)

  • Producer of oxygen (photosynthesis)



Recall from biology that autotrophs (aka primary producers) like plants or algae create carbohydrates (usable energy) from light through photosynthesis:

  • Recall from biology that autotrophs (aka primary producers) like plants or algae create carbohydrates (usable energy) from light through photosynthesis:

  • CO2 + H2O  C6H12O6 (carbohydrate) + O2(oxygen)

  • This energy supplies entire food webs as organisms are eaten up the food chain



Many plankton are primary producers

    • Many plankton are primary producers
    • Over 90% of marine primary production (energy produced) is from phytoplankton! The rest is from marine plants and other sources.


Collected with special nets

  • Collected with special nets

  • and sampling bottles

  • Underwater cameras

  • Microscopes

  • Satellites



Satellites equipped with color scanners measure the concentration of chlorophyll in the ocean

  • Satellites equipped with color scanners measure the concentration of chlorophyll in the ocean

  • Red and orange indicate higher concentration of chlorophyll, while blue and green represent lower concentrations

  • Chlorophyll is an indicator of plankton and can be used to study plankton populations



Holoplankton spend their entire life cycle as plankton

  • Holoplankton spend their entire life cycle as plankton

  • Examples include dinoflagellates, diatoms and krill



Meroplankton spend only a part of their life cycle drifting

  • Meroplankton spend only a part of their life cycle drifting

  • As they mature they become nekton (free swimmers) or benthic (crawlers)

  • Examples include fish and crab larvae



Phytoplankton

  • Phytoplankton

  • Producers

  • Single cells or chains of cells

  • including the smallest plankton – picoplankton (0.2 -2 microns)

  • Remain near the surface



  • Scientists collect samples and carefully observe their characteristics

  • They communicate these observations with sketches and photographs

  • Today, you’re the scientist!



You will see ten slides depicting specimens you found during a NOAA expedition.

  • You will see ten slides depicting specimens you found during a NOAA expedition.

  • Note: They are from different tows representing different oceans and different depths.

  • Each slide will be visible for 2 minutes.

  • As the slides are shown, observe and, using a pencil, sketch each sample on your worksheet. If there is more than one specimen on the slide, choose one to draw. Note body shape, projections, sensory organs, appendages, type of covering and degree of transparency.





Specimen # ___________

  • Specimen # ___________

  • Characteristics: Description

  • Body shape/Tail/flagella/appendages/eyes

  • Transparency/gills/other features

  • ______________________

  • ______________________

  • ______________________

  • Circle one from each category:

  • Phytoplankton or Zooplankton

  • Holoplankton or Meroplankton























Now use your drawings to identify your specimens. Use any resources you have available or view the rest of the slides to discuss the specific organisms used.

  • Now use your drawings to identify your specimens. Use any resources you have available or view the rest of the slides to discuss the specific organisms used.



Phytoplankton common in nutrient rich temperate, polar, coast and open ocean

  • Phytoplankton common in nutrient rich temperate, polar, coast and open ocean

  • Important oxygen producer

  • Occur as a single cell or in chains

  • Covered in shells made of silica



Simple crustacean with jointed exoskeleton

  • Simple crustacean with jointed exoskeleton

  • Use enlarged first antenna to swim

  • Among the most common animals on Earth (most abundant of the net zooplankton)



Bristly appendages act as paddles and create water currents that draw individual phytoplankton cells close to feed on

  • Bristly appendages act as paddles and create water currents that draw individual phytoplankton cells close to feed on

  • Many feed on zooplankton using claw like appendages to grab prey

  • Eggs are attached to the tail



Coastal waters are rich in meroplankton

  • Coastal waters are rich in meroplankton

  • (temporary members of the plankton)

  • Nearly all marine fish have planktonic larvae

  • Fish larvae may change from herbivores to carnivores as they grow



Although usually found near the surface plankton may also be collected at all depths even over hydrothermal vents in the deep sea

  • Although usually found near the surface plankton may also be collected at all depths even over hydrothermal vents in the deep sea



Some invertebrates have a whole series of different larval stages

  • Some invertebrates have a whole series of different larval stages



Unicellular, phytoplankton

  • Unicellular, phytoplankton

  • Most have a cell wall (theca) with plates of cellulose with spines and pores

  • May form blooms that color the water “Red Tides” or Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)

  • Produce bioluminescence (light)

  • Some dinoflagellates live in symbiotic relationships with corals, giant clams, sea anemones.



Not as abundant as copepods they aggregate into huge, dense schools

  • Not as abundant as copepods they aggregate into huge, dense schools

  • Prefer colder polar waters

  • Feed on diatoms and solid wastes of other zooplankton

  • Important food for whales

  • Tread water to stay afloat



Gelatinous zooplankton

  • Gelatinous zooplankton

  • Common in temperate and tropical waters

  • Stinging cells are not toxic and don’t sting like other jellyfish

  • 95% water but serve as food for many animals including turtles

  • Feed by producing a sticky mucus that traps other plankton

  • Reproduce sexually and asexually



Temporary members of the plankton, octopus and squid become nektonic (free swimming) and benthic (crawling)

  • Temporary members of the plankton, octopus and squid become nektonic (free swimming) and benthic (crawling)

  • Giant squid are the largest invertebrates in the ocean




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