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15 November 2021

Plankton head polewards

Climate change pushes plankton to move towards the poles, destabilizing the balance of the marine food chain.

Plankton plays a key role in the marine ecosystem and food web: phytoplankton uses photosynthesis to fix carbon dioxide and are a food source to zooplankton, which nourish fish and marine creatures. A team of researchers from ETH Zurich elaborated a new global dataset to create distribution maps for more than 860 species of phytoplankton and zooplankton based on various statistical algorithms and climate models.

The predictions indicate that ocean warming, caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, will prompt many species of marine plankton to head to the poles and form new communities with unforeseeable consequences for marine food webs.

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