Unattached and having weak powers of independent movement, plankton contrast with organisms that are benthic (attached to or living in bottom sediments) or nektonic (active swimming). They are usually microscopic, although some zooplankton (eg, JELLYFISH) may be several metres long.
Planktonic food chains are the basis of the aquatic ecosystem. At the lowest level are phytoplankton, primary producers able to use SOLAR ENERGY, carbon dioxide and water to photosynthesize organic matter. Smaller zooplankton, feeding on phytoplankton, represent the second, "grazing" trophic level (herbivores).
Links to Other Sites
Glossary: Coastal Habitats
A glossary of terms related to the ecology of Atlantic Canada's diverse coastal habitats. From Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Evidence for Conserving Biofilm for Higher-level Organisms
A summary of research into the importance of conserving biofilm found on mud flats and other aquatic environments. From Environment Canada.
An illustrated guide to zooplankton taxa from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.