Skip to content
Phytoplankton in Depth: Factors affecting their biodiversity and Distribution
What is Phytoplankton?
- Phytoplankton is derived from the Greek words Phyto meaning “plant” and plankton meaning “made to wander or drift”.
- Phytoplanktons are microscopic plant organisms that leave in an aquatic environment both salty and fresh.
- Phytoplankton is made up of single-celled algae and cyanobacteria.
- Mostly, phytoplanktons are single-celled plants.
- Some phytoplanktons are bacteria and protists (a eukaryotic organism that is not an animal, plant, or fungus).
- It is the base of different aquatic food webs.
- Phytoplankton produces 60% of more oxygen than all plants.
- All Phytoplankton have chlorophyll and uses photosynthesis to turn it into chemical energy.
- Phytoplankton are also called superfood as it contains greater levels of amino acids, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Since phytoplankton are microscopic plant organisms it does produce oxygen
- The total biomass of phytoplankton is more than the total biomass of plants on land.
Factors affecting Phytoplankton Biodiversity
- Light – Phytoplankton population is directly proportional to light intensity. But light is limited to uppermost layer of the ocean.
- Nutrients required for their growth are nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Rate of photosynthesis is directly proportional to the temperature but diminishes sharply after the point reached.
Distribution of Phytoplankton Diversity:
- Phytoplankton are not uniformly distributed
- Its highest concentrations found at high latitudes with exceptions of upwelling areas on the continental shelf
- Tropics and subtropics have ten to a hundred times lower concentration
- Its distribution limited to the euphotic Zone that is the sunlight area.