Defining Pelagic and Nektonic Terms in Biology

A number of terms are used by biologists and palaeontologists to provide an overview of the habit or mode of life of organisms.  Most of the terms relate to marine or freshwater environments due to the number of different habitats and modes of life that exist in the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers.  One term that is frequently seen in academic papers related to zoology or botany is the term “pelagic”.  Pelagic (pronounced pel-laj-jick) refers to animals and plants that live above the sea floor.  This term is further divided up into nektonic, (pronounced neck-ton-nick) referring only to animals that live above the sea floor or planktonic (animals and plants).  Nektonic animals are creatures that actively swim such as herring, squid and sharks.  The collective noun is nekton (pronounced neck-ton).

Planktonic organisms (animals and plants) swim feebly or drift passively in water currents.  Most organisms are confined to the sunlight surface waters.  The collective noun is plankton).  The term includes phytoplankton (fie-toe-plank-ton), organisms that use the process of photosynthesis, using sunlight energy to create sugars, mostly algae and zooplankton which consists mostly of microscopic animals including the larvae of larger nektonic animals, but also so macroscopic animals that are readily visible to the naked eye, animals such as those from the Order Cnidaria such as jellyfish.

An Overview of Some Important Terms in Biology

Defining biological terms.

Defining biological terms.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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