Systems Approach to Natural and Artificial Plankton Communities by Continuous Cultures

  • Norbert Walz
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 98)


Shortly after the invention of the microscope (about 1590 by Z. Jansen) Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) was the first to observed infusoria in a drop of water. Since that time and since the first use of plankton gauze nets by the physiologist, Johannes Müller (1801–1858), the organisms in the plankton of aquatic environments have fascinated generations of scientists and amateurs. Every child looking for the first time in a microscope is spellbound by this living world of crawling and hopping water fleas, rotating wheel and slipper animalcules, and bizarre by shaped algae. What a contradiction to the formerly prevailing conception of a monotonous and simple structure of this pelagic environment! This apparent simplicity, however, seemed to be a good starting point for many scientists to study structure, function, and regulation of this community as a model for more complicated ecosystems. Hutchinson (1961) with his formulation of the “paradox of the plankton” illuminated this inconsistency. Meanwhile, with the publication of volumes such as Complex Interactions in Lake Communities (Carpenter 1988) and Plankton Ecology (Sommer 1989a), the specific character of this system is approached more closely. It is not its simplicity which makes the plankton a good candidate for model studies but its applicability to quantitative and experimental studies. This community has lost none of its fascination.


Activate Sludge Continuous Culture Sewage Treatment Plant Plankton Community Chemostat Culture 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norbert Walz

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