Marine Plankton

Welcome to the Plankton Ecology Lab

An introduction to the Plankton Ecology Lab at HMSC by Dr. Su Sponaugle.

At the Plankton Ecology Laboratory, we conduct basic and applied research on the ecology of marine fishes and the dynamics of their early life history stages in the plankton. Please see our lab's website for current and recent research projects conducted by our dynamic team of graduate and undergraduate students, postdocs, and research assistants. In addition to our research, we are passionate about sharing our science with the public locally, nationally, and internationally. We hope you'll enjoy this brief introduction!

Welcome to the OSU Plankton Ecology Lab-lets meet the student and researchers in the lab!

Research cruise throughout the Florida Straits on the R/V Walton Smith in cooperation with RSMAS University of Miami and OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Many marine organisms produce tiny offspring that float around in the water column for weeks to months before they are ready to join the adult population. Just like human babies do not closely resemble human adults, the differences between young and older marine organisms can be hard to see.

Try your hand at figuring out what the planktonic larval forms on the left will turn into once they are old. Match the youngster on the left with the adult on the right.

Good luck and have fun! (Note: the answer key is at the bottom of this webpage).

A matching game called Are You my Mother which matches the juvinelle and adult types of marine animals

Infographic of the services plankton provide to marine animals and humans.

Visit Plankton Portal

You too can help us identify the plankton that we image underwater with our high-tech sampling device (see the above cruise video for sampling details). Visit Plankton Portal to learn how to identify these tiny creatures and work with some real imagery data!

(Left) Plankton are a critically important food source. Plankton also play an important role in the global carbon cycle. This cycle captures the Sun’s energy and the atmosphere’s CO2 at the surface of the ocean and releases it to other organisms and other areas of the ocean. Understanding where and when plankton occur at different depths in the ocean allows scientists to get a global understanding of the function and health of the ocean from small to global scales.


Su Sponagle

Plankton Ecology Lab

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Are You My Mother? Answer Key:

A—6: Crab zoea—Dungeness crab adult
B—7: Tuna
C—4: Billfish
D—8: Sea cucumber
E—3: Sea urchin
F—5: Flying fish
G—2: Pacific halibut
H—1: Blue tang