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Plankton - Research Paper Example

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PLANKTON Name Institution of Affiliation Course Date PLANKTON Plankton refers to a family of small animals or plants, usually microscopic, found drifting floating in clusters on both salt and fresh water bodies. The planktons come in three distinct types. To begin with is the tiny and often microscopic plants called phytoplankton…
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Download file to see previous pages The third category, though rarely considered in most cases, comprises of bacteria which mostly feed on dead matter leaving only a few that are photosynthetic. Majority of the planktons can only be viewed with the help of powerful microscope although some larger animals that include jellyfish, shrimps fall in this category by virtue of their floating lifestyle (Ocean News, 2013). In addition to this, most plankton are able to make slight vertical movements along the water column, although some are unable to do anything but only be carried passively by the water current. PLANT PLANKTON (PHYTOPLANKTON) Phytoplankton or plant plankton carries out three major roles that are crucial to general life on earth. These include i. Provision of close to 50% oxygen found on earth’s atmosphere ii. Regulation of carbon dioxide levels within the water and in the atmosphere iii. They occupy the primary level of the aquatic food webs Microscopic algae are the most common phytoplankton. The amount and distribution of planktons depends much on the amount of light, availability of nutrients and the steadiness of water layers. For instance, the region around New Zealand experiences the springtime bloom in which case phytoplankton algae extensively cover the surface of water bodies. Such is the case that during this period the temperature is high, sunlight hours increase while nutrients are readily available. This comes following the stirring of storms and the winter cooling. Under such conditions, the phytoplankton undergoes a rapid growth and reproduction (Boney, 1975). In fact, it is said that the reproduction process doubles with each new day, a situation that sometimes escalate to reach nuisance proportions (Bolli, Saunders & Nielsen 1985). At its peak growth, the toxicity level increases and the oxygen in water reduce and at its worst, it is depleted. However, the phytoplankton often depletes their nutrients prior to this. The phytoplankton population is controlled by the grazing Zooplankton. The three major phytoplankton types include: i) Diatoms: This is formed of single cells that are covered within cases of silica (glass). Each of this case comprises two interlocking parts and fine holes that allow nutrients in and waste to move out. These organisms, that also form the photosynthetic group, live mostly in the ocean, and only a small group inhabiting fresh water. ii) Dinoflagellates: The name is derived from the two whip-like extensions (flagella) used to make forward movement. This group takes in the predatory species as well as the photosynthetic members (Tomas, & Hasle, 1997). Red tide is a term used when referring to masses of red-brown dinoflagellates found clustering in surface water bodies. iii) Desmids: These represent the freshwater photo-synthesizers, which are closely associated with green seaweeds. They bear a resemblance to little miniature barbells or green cylinders and are mostly found in rivers and lakes. ANIMAL PLANKTON (ZOOPLANKTON) The Zooplankton serves as a bridge between the plant plankton, which are food producers, and the larger sea animals. Size has been found to play a major role when it comes to the survival in the sea, with the larger sized planktons getting an advantage over the small sized. Here, the single –celled animal plankton feed on plant plankton or even sometimes ingest one another (Plankton.1976). The larger or multi celled zooplanktons such as crustaceans, jelly fish and arrow ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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