Plankton, Status and Role of

Colin S. Reynolds, J. Padisák

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


"Plankton" is a collective term for organisms adapted specifically for a life in suspension in the open waters (the pelagic zone) of the sea and of such inland waters as lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Planktonic organisms include protists, microorganisms, and certain types of small metazoan animals, all sharing a common liability to passive entrainment in water currents, generated by tide, wind, convection, gravity, and the rotation of the earth. The physical variability of open-water habitats typically favors short life histories; rapid changes in dominant species composition, in response to fluctuating environmental conditions, contribute to the maintenance of high biological diversity in individual habitats and to the survival of high species richness among planktonic assemblages in general. This article provides an overview on form, function, and selection of the main plankton groups and discusses temporal patterns in the organization, diversity and species richness of planktonic communities in the aquatic environment and its habitat types.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Biodiversity
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780123847195
ISBN (Print)9780123847201
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Bacterioplankton
  • Diversity
  • Form and function
  • Functional groups
  • Habitat diversity
  • Life strategies
  • Light
  • Nutrients
  • Phytoplankton
  • Predation
  • Seasonal succession
  • Zooplankton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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  • Cite this

    Reynolds, C. S., & Padisák, J. (2013). Plankton, Status and Role of. In Encyclopedia of Biodiversity: Second Edition (pp. 24-38). Elsevier Inc..