Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 11 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 11, No. 1
Pages 4 - 9

OpenAccess

Small-Scale Planktonic Structure: Persistence and Trophic Consequences

Timothy J. CowlesRussell A. DesiderioMary-Elena Carr
First Paragraph

Most conventional sampling methods limit our ability to resolve planktonic distributions over vertical scales less than a few meters. Estimates of in situ biological rates also are limited by equipment and sampling resolution. It has been obvious to plankton researchers for decades that the uncertainties created by sampling limitations are complicated further by vertical and horizontal variability in plankton distributions (often called patchiness). Although patches of phytoplankton (usually undetected) were recognized as essential for zooplankton growth and survival (e.g., Mullin and Brooks, 1976: Dagg, 1977), the distribution, size, and concentration of phytoplankton patches have been viewed as random or stochastic (e.g., Fasham, 1978). If phytoplankton patchiness is characterized by randomness, the contribution of this variability to our estimates of phytoplankton biomass may be removed by averaging over larger scales, and samples obtained with conventional sampling equipment can be used with some confidence. On the other hand, if patchiness is nonrandom on spatial or temporal scales that are difficult to resolve with conventional methods, then conventional sampling may alias estimates of planktonic distributions and rate processes such as grazing and growth.

Citation

Cowles, T.J., R.A. Desiderio, and M.-E. Carr. 1998. Small-scale planktonic structure: Persistence and trophic consequences. Oceanography 11(1):4–9, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1998.08.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.