“We have been able to connect these tiny plankton to meaningful indicators for policy use by measuring how human-driven environmental pressures affect the timing of their growth. This has only been possible by taking consistent, long-term measurements of these types of plankton.”
You hear of phrases like searching for a needle in a haystack, but this takes it to a whole new level. Identifying something that measures 0.02mm in the ocean is an immense challenge, but an increasingly important one at a time of huge environmental pressures. These plankton may be tinier than most people can realistically imagine, but they underpin the entire marine food web and play a critical role in producing the oxygen our planet needs. We need to take this silent majority more seriously.
Associate Professor of Marine Conservation and lead author on the study
- The full study – McQuatters-Gollop et al: The silent majority: pico- and nanoplankton as ecosystem health indicators for marine policy – is published in Ecological Indicators, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2024.111650. It involved researchers from: the University of Plymouth; The Marine Biological Association (MBA); Plymouth Marine Laboratory; Environment Agency; Marine Scotland Science; Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas); Scottish Association for Marine Science.
Read more about our plankton research
- Small but mighty – study highlights the abundance and importance of the ocean’s tiniest inhabitants 5 February 2024
- Researchers help to highlight the true scale of UK’s nature loss 27 September 2023
- Six decades of decline sparks call to protect the foundation of the marine food web 13 September 2023
- Innovative plankton monitoring tool holds key to assessing health of ocean life 7 December 2021
- Climate change has degraded productivity of shelf sea food webs 8 June 2020