small protozoa or crustaceans
Zooplankton are the heterotrophic (sometimes detritivorous) component of the plankton that drift in the water column of oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The name is derived from Greek terms, zoon () meaning "animal", and () meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Many zooplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye.
Zooplankton is a broad categorisation spanning a range of organism sizes that includes both small protozoans and large metazoans. It includes holoplanktonic organisms whose complete life cycle lies within the plankton, and meroplanktonic organisms that spend part of their life cycle in the plankton before graduating to either the nekton or a sessile, benthic existence.
Ecologically important protozoan zooplankton groups include the foraminiferans, radiolarians and dinoflagellates (the latter are often mixotrophic). Important metazoan zooplankton include cnidarians such as jellyfish and the Portuguese Man o' War; crustaceans such as copepods and krill; chaetognaths (arrow worms); molluscs such as pteropods; and chordates such as salps and juvenile fish. This wide phylogenetic range includes a similarly wide range in feeding behaviour: filter feeding, predation and symbiosis with autotrophic phytoplankton as seen in corals. Zooplankton feed on bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, other zooplankton (sometimes cannibalistically), detritus (or marine snow) and even nektonic organisms.
Through their consumption and processing of phytoplankton (and other food sources), zooplankton play an important role in aquatic food webs, both as a resource for consumers on higher trophic levels and as a conduit for packaging the organic material in the biological pump.
- Plankton*Net @ Roscoff, images of planktonic species
- Guide to the marine zooplankton of south eastern Australia, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
zooplankton in Spanish: Zooplancton
zooplankton in Estonian: Zooplankton
zooplankton in French: Zooplancton
zooplankton in Indonesian: Zooplankton
zooplankton in Dutch: Zoöplankton
zooplankton in Norwegian Nynorsk: Dyreplankton
zooplankton in Polish: Zooplankton
zooplankton in Romanian: Zooplancton
zooplankton in Ukrainian: Зоопланктон