plank_1 - Teachers Background Information Program 1: The...

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Teacher’s Background Information Program 1: The Who? What? Where? How? and Why’s? of Plankton During this program we will present an overview of the plankton community and the types of research being conducted. Student activities include diagrams of the ocean environments and a who’ s who plankton matching game. “On air” we will describe and contrast three marine communities (planktonic, nektonic, and benthic). Teachers may want students to complete accompanying Student Worksheets: Marine Communities, Can You Recognize Me, and Zonation 1. WHAT are plankton? Just beneath the surface waters of the ocean is a breathtaking, miniature world of unique and beautiful wander-ers, the plankton (Greek: planktos ”to wander”). Plankton are defined by their movements and their size. Although they are capable of swimming vertically in the water, they have little ability to swim horizontally and thus are carried about by currents. They are usually small in size generally microscopic ( microns , 1/1000th of a mm). Plankton are the most abundant form of life in the ocean. In fact, all other marine life is dependent upon plankton. The plant forms and many protozoans are known as phytoplankton . The abundance of ALL marine life is directly related to the supply of phytoplankton in the ocean. The animals in the plankton community are known as zooplankton . Zooplankton are important as a stable food source for fish and other animals. It is these small drifting plants and animals of the global ocean that comprise the marine plankton community. The survival of plankton is intrinsic to the survival of all other marine life from bacteria to whales! Plankton can range in size from microns to meters. The smallest plants living in the ocean are the phytoplankton, which vary in size from about 5 microns to 50 millimeters. Single-celled plants called diatoms , constitute more than half of the phytoplankton in the ocean. These plants, together with the rest of the phytoplankton, are often referred to as “the grass of the ocean”. By means of photosynthesis they convert chemical nutrients into their food. Phytoplankton absorb nutrients such as phosphates, nitrates, and minerals directly from the ocean waters. The animal portion of the plankton, the zooplankton, can range in size from a few millimeters to over a meter in size. The phytoplankton are consumed by the zooplankton and by some of the larger animals. Then the larger animals, such as fish, lobsters and crabs, feed on the zooplankton. The chemical nutrients are replaced in the ocean by the excretion of animals and bacterial action in the decomposition of dead plants and animals. Thus, the ocean’s food cycle is continuous, from chemical nutrient
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This note was uploaded on 07/31/2011 for the course OCB 6050 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at University of South Florida - Tampa.

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plank_1 - Teachers Background Information Program 1: The...

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