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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1901, from zoo- "animal" + plankton.


n. (context zoology English) Free-floating small protozoa, crustaceans (such as krill), etc. and the eggs and larvae from larger animals.


n. animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae


Zooplankton are heterotrophic (sometimes detritivorous) plankton. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon , meaning "animal", and , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Individual zooplankton are usually microscopic, but some (such as jellyfish) are larger and visible with the naked eye.

Usage examples of "zooplankton".

Everything is going into the growth of the slick, and as it displaces the normal phytoplankton population, it will remove the base of the ecological pyramid through which fixed carbon flows from the microscopic primary producers to zooplankton, fish, squid, whales, and, ultimately, man.

Over the next several hours, as the samples were processed and identified, Garner gradually developed a catalog of plankton species and a rough map of population densities for several of the main zooplankton groups.

Worst of all was the Indian experiment in cultivating a genetically altered form of zooplankton which produced tiny, almost microscopic pockets of hydrogen that allowed for the organism to become airborne.

But other labs in other huts varied greatly, from a full mining operation that sampled cores of the ocean floor to a hydrolab that studied the health of the phyto-and zooplankton under the ice.