ecosystem importance: basic role of zooplankton (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, February 25, 2022, 01:51 (125 days ago) @ David Turell

A good review:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-of-natural-history/2022/02/24/an-o...

"Though they might not be Olympic swimmers, many zooplankton participate in the largest migration on the planet, traveling the hundreds of meters between the sun-filled surface waters and the dark depths on a daily basis.

For many species, this epic trek is the key to surviving in the water column. “It’s like playing hide-and-seek on a football field,” Osborn said. “You’re out in this huge three-dimensional space with no structure and nothing to hide behind, and getting found usually means getting eaten.” To steer clear of predators, zooplankton will retreat to deeper, darker waters during the day and only venture to the surface for food under cover of night.

"Not every species moves on the same schedule, and researchers are still untangling all the reasons for this journey. What is clear is that when zooplankton migrate, many other species — including other zooplankton — take advantage of the daily pattern.

***

"Many other animals that feed on zooplankton, like fish, follow the migrators in search of a meal. And the animals that eat those zooplankton predators, like seals, toothed whales and sea turtles, get in on the action, too — meaning that the zooplankton’s game of hide-and-seek is responsible for the daily dynamics of the entire system.

"Those bigger animals have little choice but to trail the zooplankton up and down the water column. The entire marine food web relies on them. Where zooplankton go, everyone else follows.

“'Zooplankton are essential for a healthy ecosystem,” said Paula Pappalardo, an ecologist who studies plankton biodiversity at the museum. “The tiny zooplankton will eat the phytoplankton, which get their energy from the sun through photosynthesis.” (my bold)

"Those zooplankton are eaten by larger zooplankton, which are eaten by fish, which are eaten by marine mammals, seabirds and humans — making zooplankton crucial for survival far beyond the shoreline. Some colossal ocean creatures, like baleen whales, even feed on zooplankton directly, producing a vast web of predators and prey with zooplankton at its center. (my bold)

"All that eating, waste-producing, growing and dying also means that zooplankton play a critical role in the global carbon cycle. “They are very important for what’s known as the biological pump,” Pappalardo said. “Because of their vertical migration, zooplankton help move organic matter to deeper waters, and their fecal pellets and decomposing bodies sink through the ocean as part of the marine snow. Those processes transport carbon down the water column and eventually it gets buried in ocean sediments,” a key step in the movement of carbon around the planet.

"So many intricately connected processes means that jostling the zooplankton population, particularly through human disturbances like climate change, could have cascading consequences.

“'Everything seems to be in a delicate balance out there,” Osborn said. “If you really imbalance something, it’s probably going to have a pretty huge effect, and we don’t know what the downstream changes are going to be.'”

Comment: Another amazingly complex ecosystem that is part of a precise feeding setup designed by God to solve the problem that every living one has to eat. dhw demands all sorts of God 'purposes'. well this is an important one He had to see was designed properly to fill the food need. On the way to evolving humans God had to work on all the side issues/ purposes that were required to keep the whole evolutionary process going properly. Who would have thought that all those weirdly shaped zooplankton were so important unless curious humans did the research. The lesson to be learned is that all the oddballs in reality are there for God's reasons. Example, no human parts are vestigial. No human outthinks God.


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