Organisms that live in in the water column or in a suitable atmosphere and drift or float in that environment, being incapable of swimming against the current or wind. A world that has life and bodies of water of any kind will have plankton. On garden worlds, larger or more actively moving organisms in the environment will depend on plankton for food; plankton are the basis for the larger aquatic (or in rarer cases aerial) biome. Analogues to biological plankton are found in some nanecologies and mechosystems. Types of plankton include:

Phytoplankton: Primary producers, typically photosynthetic or occasionally chemosynthetic; typically algae or organisms bearing algae as symbionts.

Zooplankton: Animals or the equivalent that feed on phytoplankton. The distinction between zooplankton and phytoplankton is not exact, since it is common for organisms to mix the two strategies.

Skyplankton/Airplankton/Aeroplankton: Plankton-like organisms found in the dense atmosphere and cloud-tops of some eogaian, eocytherian, and To'ul'hian worlds, or the atmosphere of a gas giant (where they may be called joviplankton), in some gaian worlds where flotation mechanisms have evolved, or in artificial microgravity environments such a freesphere or the middle regions of some rotating habs. Such organisms may be given a distinctive term such as phytoaeroplankton or zooaeroplankton.

Mechoplankton: Nanotech-based organisms that serve a plankton-like role in an artificial mechosystem, or escaped or evolved wild organisms of this kind in botworlds (see nanecology, bionanecology, hylonanecology).

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  • Zooplankton - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Animals that float passively in the water as part of the plankton. Zooplankton feed on other plankton (phytoplankton, bacterioplankton or other zooplankton) and are in turn food for larger aquatic organisms. An important part of the aquatic ecology of any terragen and terragen-type ecosystem.
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Stephen Inniss
Initially published on 19 December 2001.

Significantly revised by Stephen Inniss 13 March 2013