Under the microscope, they look like they could be from another planet, but these microscopic organisms inhabit the depths of our oceans in nearly infinite numbers.
To begin to identify where, when, and how much oceanic plankton can be found around the globe, a group of international researchers have compiled the first ever global atlas cataloguing marine plankton ranging in size from bacteria to jellyfish. The atlas was published today in a special issue of the journal Earth System Science Data.
The atlas, known as the Marine Ecosystem Biomass Data (MAREDAT), is the first step towards a comprehensive inventory of the marine biota based on counts of individual cells or organisms. It will help researchers better understand marine biodiversity for conservation and monitoring and is the result of collaborations between scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the University of East Anglia, ETH Zurich, University of Manchester, Université d’Angers and CNRS, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), together with many other scientific institutions around the world.
“One of the more surprising findings from the study is that phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass are roughly the same size in the upper ocean. Compare that to more familiar land ecosystems where the biomass of plants greatly exceeds that of animals and it’s pretty illuminating,” says WHOI Senior Scientist and Marine Chemist Scott Doney, a collaborator on the project.
The MAREDAT database is open-source and available through a public website.
Thus far, it has catalogued about half a million measurements of plankton biomass, which are subdivided into 12 broad plankton groups. Each group has a separate database.
“The data and documentation can be downloaded by any researcher so that they can explore their own scientific questions,” Doney says. “Over time we hope to grow the database by adding other historical and newly collected data for plankton groups already in the database as well as extend into different plankton groups.”
One group of microorganisms Doney and his colleague Yawei Luo have focused on cataloguing in MAREDAT is marine nitrogen-fixing bacteria called “diazotrophs.” These unique microbes can literally make the nutrients they need for growth out of thin air, or at least from dissolved nitrogen gas. They play an essential role in subtropical ocean gyres providing a source of nitrogen in the otherwise nutrient-poor surface waters. The nitrogen fixation rates and diazotroph cell counts are being used to study the environmental conditions that determine nitrogen fixation and diazotroph community structure.
The Latest Bing News on:
- More than 90 per cent of oil slicks threatening global marine life caused by humans, US and Chinese scientists findon June 16, 2022 at 7:00 pm
Study published in Science reveals major shift from 1990s estimate showing roughly 50-50 split in human and natural sources.
- At sea in Antarcticaon June 16, 2022 at 11:30 am
The University of Delaware was well represented on a National Science Foundation (NSF) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) cruise to Palmer Station in Antarctica in the fall and ...
- Viruses could help the ocean capture more carbon, researchers sayon June 16, 2022 at 9:58 am
Data from the Tara expeditions was featured in the researchers’ study, which reported that the viruses infect plankton and other marine plant species and can increase the amount of carbon that they ...
- ‘Extreme’ low tides bring unique chance to spot Whatcom sea critters. Here’s your guideon June 16, 2022 at 9:52 am
Exceptionally low tides caused by a wobble in the moon’s orbit mean a slew of sea critters will be more visible than usual on Wednesday, June 15, and Thursday, June 16. Low tides at this time of year ...
- Explore the New England Aquarium’s new public photography exhibiton June 16, 2022 at 8:42 am
On June 22, the New England Aquarium opens a new exhibit by underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen, getting up close with the marine life of Stellwagen Bank. “Space to Sea: A Photographic Journey ...
- Running Tide is facing scientist departures and growing concerns over seaweed sinking for carbon removalon June 16, 2022 at 2:00 am
The venture-backed startup believes kelp could be a powerful tool to combat climate change. But some scientists fear the ecological risks on large scales.
- Warming water pushes endangered whale toward deadly boatson June 14, 2022 at 3:25 am
North Atlantic right whales are being driven into new parts of the ocean off New England as rising temperatures shift their food supplies.
- “Viral Dark Matter” Could Help Mitigate Climate Change – Here’s Howon June 13, 2022 at 11:37 am
Study identifies 1,200+ RNA viruses with connections to carbon flux. Many scientists believe that climate change is a significant threat and that we are running out of time left to act. On top of that ...
- How ‘Viral Dark Matter’ May Help Mitigate Climate Changeon June 10, 2022 at 5:05 am
“Plankton are at the base of the food web for marine and terrestrial organisms and drive planetary biogeochemical cycles.” Marine plankton are also central to the biological carbon ...
- New analysis reveals ecological patterns and roles of marine RNA viruseson June 9, 2022 at 11:03 am
According to the findings, marine RNA viruses predominantly infect protist and fungal hosts, including plankton. As has been observed in DNA viruses, they sort into four distinct ecological zones, ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
- Feed has no items.