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Microscopic marine biodiversity: the invisible majority playing a central role in the ocean's health

Chris Bowler on board of Tara ©Maéva Bardy & Fondation Tara Ocean

Our latest guest on the podcast is Chris Bowler, research director at the CNRS, the French national research centre and recently appointed president of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (SZN), coordination institute of the AtlantECO project. In our conversation Chris explains what marine biodiversity is and how studying it can help us better understand the health of our ocean.

Here, we talk about the invisible, the microscopic, which is crucial to the well-being of the ocean but often less talked about than more “prestigious” marine species (for example coral reefs or dolphins).

This microscopic life represents ⅔ of the biomass in the water! It is composed of the photosynthetic organisms, the phytoplankton, which form the very base of the food chain in the water, and is responsible for 50% of the oxygen production in the water, the equivalent of our trees on land. Then comes the zooplankton, tiny organisms which eat the phytoplankton, the bacterias, from which some are also photosynthetic and finally viruses, the smallest components of the microbiome.

All of these are very important in the life cycle, indeed, they are both at the base of the food chain, providing organic material to bigger organisms but they are also recyclers, decomposing organic material available in the ecosystem, therefore playing a central role in the functioning of the entire system.

So, if you want to know more about how these organisms are studied and what we can learn from them, make sure to listen to the full conversation!

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