Tintinnids are micro-zooplankton found in marine and estuarine waters. I came across these little wonders during my doctoral research. I would like to share it with all.
The Amazing Tintinnid: A tiny zooplankton (Little Wonders)
What are these little wonders?
Tintinnids are ciliates protozoan belonging to order Tintinnida. They are distinguished by vase-shaped shells called loricae made up of protein and contain pieces of minerals.
Tintinnids became abundant in the fossil record during the Jurassic. Tintinnids are an important part of the fossil record because the loricae of some tintinnids are easily preserved, giving them a relatively good fossil record.
Like other protists, tintinnids are single-celled organisms. Tintinnids are heterotrophic aquatic organisms. They feed primarily on photosynthetic algae and bacteria. They are part of the microzooplankton (between 20 and 200 micrometres in size).
The characteristics of their lorica, or shells, are used to distinguish between the roughly 500 species described. I identified about 30 species form the South Indian estuaries.
Some species I have recorded
a. Tintinnopsis radix
b. Tintinnopsis tocantinensis
c. Tintinnopsis tubulosoides
d. Favella philippinensis
e. Favella brevis
f. Leprotintinnus simplex
g. Tintinnopsis minuta
h. Tintinnidium primitivism
i. Favella ehrenbergii
Tintinnids are a vital link in aquatic food chains as they are the ‘herbivores’ of the plankton. They feed on phytoplankton (algae and cyanobacteria) and in turn act as food for larger organisms such as copepods (small crustaceans) and larval fish.
Their swimming pattern is rather ‘jumpy’- or dancing- they are part of the ‘choreotrichs’ which means dancing hairs from their swimming behaviour and cilia.
Though unseen, by the naked eye, they contribute a lot to the food chain.