Surface/Volume Ratio: Implications for Phytoplankton Morphology

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Science  28 May 1976:
Vol. 192, Issue 4242, pp. 885-887
DOI: 10.1126/science.192.4242.885


Plankton autotrophs vary greatly in size and shape. Computation of surface/volume ratios for biomass units of 27 coexisting phytoplankton species in a tropical lake indicates that these ratios are conserved within a range much narrower than expected by random choice of shapes. Conservation of surface/volume ratios suggests new explanations for the shapes of phytoplankton biomass units.