It has long been recognized that marine biodiversity is under enormous threat and that species extinctions and introductions can occur at alarming rates both benthic and plank-tonic marine communities. These shifts, particularly in the plankton, can have profound ecological and economic effects.
Many commercial fisheries for instance are over-fished and their effective and sustainable management relies on the accurate model-taxonomy of many marine phytoplankton and zooplankton species is confused and therefore interactions with higher trophic levels are poorly understood, it is as yet impossible to establish accurate food-web models that can be used for fisheries management One reason for the taxonomic problems that confound assessments of the state of marine plankton communities is the lack of an efficient means of accessing all available information. The plankton-net project will remedy this by providing a user-oriented network of databases with taxonomic information on all components of marine plankton.
However, while making available this information we will also design a set of tools for species identification, in particular a library of taxonomic keys that will allow end-users of many backgrounds to identify plankton and to become familiar with the current limits of plankton taxonomy that are relevant to ecologists and modellers alike.
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