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Zooplankton is typically the tiny animals found in the surface in the aquatic region. Its scientific name is Calanoida. Zooplanktons are microscopic organisms that eat other plankton. Plankton is made up of phytoplankton.
Characteristics of zooplankton
- Zooplankton includes sea animals which are suspended in water with very less power of locomotion. Compared to phytoplankton, they are usually denser than water, and they sink by gravity to lower depths of water. The suspended zooplankton has very limited powers of locomotion.
- Freshwater zooplanktons are always dominated by four major groups of animals such as protozoa, rotifers, detritus and sessile and two other subclasses of crustacea, cladocerans and copepods.
- Protozoans generally feed on bacteria-sized particles and detritus generally are not utilized by large zooplankton.
- Rotifers and sessile are associated with the littoral zone, few of them are completely plank tonic; these species form major components of the zooplankton.
Zooplankton gets adapted to mechanisms to deter fish, which is considered as the heaviest predator, including: transparent bodies, bright colors, bad tastes, red coloring, cyclomorphosis. In deeper water, Cyclomorphosis comes out when predators release chemicals in the water that signal zooplankton, such as rotifers or cladocerans, to increase their and protective shields.
Generally zooplankton migrate deeper into the water during the day time and usually come up at night. The amount and rays of light is the major factor in the extent of migratory behavior. It is possible that zooplankton migrate to lower levels of water during the day time because they are less visible to predators. The metabolism rates are usually lower in cold waters during the day, which is also a factor influencing in the migration of zooplankton. This is the best way for zooplankton to save energy by feeding in the cooler waters.
Factors affecting zooplankton
Zooplanktons on one side of the Gulf Stream are just opposite species from those on the other side. These characteristics of zooplankton can help scientists to distinguish one water mass from another. Zooplanktons are sometimes affected by levels of heavy metals, calcium, and aluminum. Nutrients like phosphorus will affect the prey of zooplankton for example algae, protozoa and bacteria. Indirectly or directly affecting zooplankton survival.
- The zooplankton grazing varies seasonally and among different lakes. Throughout the year, zooplankton grazie and only filters a small amount of the water volume that is 15% per day.
- Autotrophic production is generally not utilized by herbivorous zooplankton, but they always enter detrital pathways and dissolve organic matter.
- Detritus has less energy content compared to living algae; detritus are usually found augmenting the diet of suspension-feeding zooplankton.
Zooplankton production rate is equal to net productivity rate and is the sum of all biomass, which is produced at the time of growth that includes gametes and exuviae of molting, no maintenance losses from respiration or excretion.
- An assimilation and respiration rates usually goes high at higher trophic levels, and at the same time production rate decreases.
- A positive correlation always exists between the rates of production of phytoplankton and of zooplankton.
- The productivity of zooplankton suspension-feeding is higher than that of predaceous zooplankton.