EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Lagrangian connectivity of marine plankton under thermal constraints

Darshika Manral1, Linda Amaral-Zettler2,3, and Erik van Sebille1
Darshika Manral et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, the Netherlands (,
  • 2NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, the Netherlands (
  • 3Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (

The biogeographic distribution of marine planktonic communities in the global ocean and its drivers has been a topic of great interest in the scientific community. Some of these drivers can be abiotic: ocean currents, temperature, salinity, nutrients, and others biotic: presence of predators and competitive species. In our study, we focus on the distribution mediated by ocean currents and temperature. Combining Lagrangian modeling and network theory approaches, we estimate the pathways and timescales that establish the surface connectivity for passive i.e., freely floating plankton between stations in the Atlantic Ocean where plankton have been sampled during Tara Oceans & Tara Oceans Polar Circle (2009-2013) and Tara Pacific (2016-2018) expeditions.

We obtain these estimates using a transition matrix approach derived from surface ocean simulations. Given the high rates of reproduction of many planktonic species and that only a few organisms are needed to establish connectivity, we make use of the minimum time path between different stations. To obtain plankton connectivity, two types of constraints are applied on the passive connectivity model: thermal niche and thermal adaptation rate, based on data for a given planktonic species from the literature. From the preliminary analysis, we find that, using minimum time paths, passive particles representative of foraminifera can connect all the stations in less than 3 years. Application of thermal niche constraints increases the minimum connectivity time between stations by approximately 10%, suggesting that plankton can keep to within their favorable thermal conditions by advecting via slightly longer paths. Main pathways of connectivity between these stations are also highlighted in this study. The developed approach can be applied for other plankton species, for any location in the Atlantic and can also be further expanded to derive seasonal connectivity.

How to cite: Manral, D., Amaral-Zettler, L., and van Sebille, E.: Lagrangian connectivity of marine plankton under thermal constraints, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3902,, 2022.