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Some concepts relative to the organization of plankton
Margalef, R. (1967). Some concepts relative to the organization of plankton. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 5: 257-289
In: Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. Aberdeen University Press/Allen & Unwin: London. ISSN 0078-3218, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Document type: Review

    Planktonology; Marine

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  • Margalef, R.

    Statistical problems related to the distribution of species, biomass, and primary production of plankton, frequently considered in relation to the distribution of selected environmental factors, have been often discussed. So far, no evidence has been found for any 'uniform' or 'random' distribution of plankton which is not implied in the way the data are treated. In the presentation of this review it is assumed that the distribution of plankton is something unique, best described by a crossing of gradients such as to make it extremely improbable to find reasonably similar structures in different places. To this basic assumption, a working hypothesis is added: that such unique distribution represents an organization, in the sense that composition and properties of plankton in neighbouring regions are interdependent and the result of dynamic exchange phenomena, rather like, but to a lesser degree, the way that regions in the body of an organism are functionally and morphogenetically related.A number of parameters which refer to the whole complex population, such as diversity, pigment composition, and productivity, are especially close to the idea of organization, and their distribution in space and changes with time may help to obtain a view of the structure and working of the plankton considered as an organization. Gradients in the value of such parameters are gradients of organization and reflect the intensity of processes constructing or diluting such organization. With such premises, the study of plankton reveals an aspect that is complementary to the image afforded by ordinary statistical procedures. This new aspect is particularly relevant when we are interested in working in a small scale of dimensions.

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