Global trends in marine plankton diversity across kingdoms of life

© François Aurat / Fondation Tara Océan

Tara Oceans

F.M. Ibarbalz et al., Global trends in marine plankton diversity across kingdoms of life, Cell (2019). See online

G. Salazar et al., Gene expression changes and community turnover differentially shape the global ocean metatranscriptome, Cell (2019). See online

And also: J. Claudet et al., A roadmap for using the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in support of science, policy and action, One Earth (2019). See online

Published on 14 November 2019.


The ocean is home to myriad small planktonic organisms that underpin the functioning of marine ecosystems. However, their spatial patterns of diversity and the underlying drivers remain poorly known, precluding projections of their responses to global changes. Here, we investigate the latitudinal gradients and global predictors of plankton diversity across archaea, bacteria, eukaryotes and major virus clades using both molecular and imaging data from Tara Oceans. We show a decline of diversity for most planktonic groups towards the poles, mainly driven by decreasing temperatures of the polar waters at this latitude. Projections into the future suggest that severe warming of the surface ocean by the end of the 21st century could lead to tropicalization of the diversity of most planktonic groups in temperate and polar regions. These changes may have multiple consequences for marine ecosystem functioning and services, and are expected to be particularly significant in key areas for carbon sequestration, fisheries, and marine conservation.


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