Plankton are any drifting organisms (animals, plants, archaea or bacteria) that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas or bodies of fresh water. Plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification. They provide a crucial source of food to larger, organisms such as fish and cetacea. Many are microscopic in size – the organisms cover a wide range of sizes, including large organisms such as jellyfish. Plankton typically flow with ocean currents.
Holoplankton spend their entire life cycle as plankton (algae, copepods, salps, and some jellyfish).
Meroplankton are onlly planktic for part of their lives (usually the larval stage) and graduate to either a nektic or benthic existence. Examples include the larvae of sea urchins, starfish, crustaceans, marine worms and most fish.
No, plankton is actually a general term for organisms that cannot move independently (eg they must be moved by the ocean’s currents). There are three main types of plankton: Phytoplankton, which are plant-like in nature, Zooplankton , which are animal-like, and Bacterioplankton, which has characteristics of both. Plankton are considered important because they are the lowest link on the food chain; although they are not fish they provide sustenance for other fish.
To add to the answers above phytoplankton is very tiny and is usually called nannoplankton and microplankton. Zooplankton is usually called macroplankton.
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