Census of Marine Zooplankton

The Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ) is a global, taxonomically comprehensive biodiversity assessment of animal plankton, including ~6,800 described species in fifteen phyla.

Project Leaders:



Prof. Ann Bucklin, Marine Sciences and Technology Center, University of Connecticut, USA


Prof. Shuhei Nishida, Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Japan


Dr. Sigrid Schiel, Comparative Ecosystem Research, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany



The Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ) will work toward a taxonomically comprehensive assessment of biodiversity of animal plankton throughout the world oceans (Fig. 1). The project goal is to produce accurate and complete information on zooplankton species diversity, biomass, biogeographical distribution, genetic diversity, and community structure by 2010. Our taxonomic focus is the animals that drift with ocean currents throughout their lives (i.e., the holozooplankton). This assemblage currently includes ~6,800 described species in fifteen phyla; our expectation is that at least that many new species will be discovered as a result of our efforts. The census will encompass unique marine environments and those likely to be inhabited by endemic and undescribed zooplankton species.

Sampling zooplankton in many ocean regions will be accomplished during the first years of the project by coordinating with ongoing, planned, and proposed programs, surveys, and initiatives. CMarZ will also make use of existing data and archived zooplankton collections. The global survey design will be optimized using theoretical and numerical models in collaboration with the CoML FMAP (Future of Marine Animal Populations) project. Sampling systems will include traditional nets and trawls, remote detection, optical sensors, and integrated sensor systems deployed on towed, remotely-operated, or autonomous vehicles and submersibles (Fig. 2). New sampling methodologies are needed to collect and study rare and fragile organisms. Molecular analysis will include determining a DNA barcode (i.e., reference DNA sequence) for each species; describing genetic diversity and structure of populations and species, identifying cryptic species, and reconstructing their evolutionary histories.CMarZ will establish regional centers for scientific leadership, planning and implementation of field activities, and raising funds to support the research work. Three project offices have been established in North America (USA), Europe (Germany), and Asia (Japan). The CMarZ Steering Group reflects the project's geographic, taxonomic, and disciplinary diversity; guides scientific and technical development; and ensures close coordination with other CoML field projects.
Important outcomes for CMarZ are more complete knowledge of biodiversity hotspots and unexplored ocean regions, new understanding of the functional role of biodiversity in ocean ecosystems, and better characterization of global-scale patterns of zooplankton biodiversity in the world oceans. CMarZ will develop new sampling, data gathering, and data visualization technologies for biological oceanographers, allowing collection of the tiny, fragile, and/or deep-living organisms that have been historically under-sampled or missed altogether. Practical deliverables for CMarZ relate to the need for ecosystem-based fisheries and ocean management, including: identification of invasive species, accurate estimates of species biodiversity, and rapid assessment of ecosystem health.
Visit the CMarZ website.
Document Actions