Phytoplankton in Depth: Factors affecting their biodiversity and Distribution


What is Phytoplankton?

  1. Phytoplankton is derived from the Greek words Phyto meaning “plant” and plankton meaning “made to wander or drift”.
  2. Phytoplanktons are microscopic plant organisms that leave in an aquatic environment both salty and fresh.
  3.  Phytoplankton is made up of single-celled algae and cyanobacteria.
  4. Mostly, phytoplanktons are single-celled plants.
  5. Some phytoplanktons are bacteria and protists (a eukaryotic organism that is not an animal, plant, or fungus).
  6. It is the base of different aquatic food webs.
  7. Phytoplankton produces 60% of more oxygen than all plants.
  8. All Phytoplankton have chlorophyll and uses photosynthesis to turn it into chemical energy.
  9. Phytoplankton are also called superfood as it contains greater levels of amino acids, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  10. Since phytoplankton are microscopic plant organisms it does produce oxygen
  11. The total biomass of phytoplankton is more than the total biomass of plants on land.

Factors affecting Phytoplankton Biodiversity

  1. Light – Phytoplankton population is directly proportional to light intensity. But light is limited to uppermost layer of the ocean.
  2. Nutrients required for their growth are nitrogen and phosphorus.
  3. Rate of photosynthesis is directly proportional to the temperature but diminishes sharply after the point reached.

Distribution of  Phytoplankton  Diversity:

  1. Phytoplankton are not uniformly distributed
  2. Its highest concentrations found at high latitudes with exceptions of upwelling areas on the continental shelf
  3. Tropics and subtropics have ten to a hundred times lower concentration
  4. Its distribution limited to the euphotic Zone that is the sunlight area.

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