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Plankton are the diverse collection of organisms that live in large bodies of water and are unable to swim against a current. The individual organisms constituting plankton are called plankters. They provide a crucial source of food to many large aquatic organisms, such as and .
These organisms include , archaea, algae, protozoa and drifting or floating animals that inhabit—for example—the pelagic zone of , seas, or bodies of fresh water. Essentially, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than any phylogenetic or taxonomic classification.
An antarctic copepod (Calanoida ) is regarded as a type of plankton (about 1-2 mm long). image:
Though many planktonic species are microscopic in size, plankton includes organisms over a wide range of sizes, including large organisms such as .
Technically the term does not include organisms on the surface of the water, which are called pleuston—or those that swim actively in the water, which are called nekton.
Siphonophora – the "conveyor belt" of the upgrowing larvae and the ovarium can be seen. image:
Plankton often include a wide range of animals that vary from microscopic to relatively large (over tens of centimetres). Many are or .
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are among the most common types of phytoplankton. image:
Origin of the name plankton
The name plankton is derived from the Greek adjective πλαγκτός - planktos, meaning errant, and by extension "wanderer" or drifter. It was coined by Victor Hensen. Plankton typically flow with ocean currents.
Distribution of plankton
Blue: low levels, Dark Green: high levels. image:
Source adapted from: Wikipedia contributors. (2019, March 4). Plankton. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 09:08, April 1, 2019, from