Planktonic Ciliate Project
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Marine planktonic ciliate are lovely. They are unicellular protozoa living in the water column of the sea. Ciliates are divided into two groups, aloricate ciliate and tintinnid, according to the absence and presence of lorica. They eat nano- and picoplankton, and they are eaten by copepods and other higher level predators.

I began to study marine planktonic ciliate ecology in the year 1997. At the beginning, I only counted the ciliate abundance in the Lugol’s fixed samples. Tintinnid species were identified according to the size and shape of their lorica. However, ciliate taxonomy is an unavoidable question. To a beginner, the best situation is to get all the existing data of ciliate taxonomy from predecessors. Unfortunately, no such kind of compilation existed. Making up my mind to devote my research in marine planktonic cilates, I began to accumulate material of tintinnid taxonomy in an effort to compile the taxonomic materials, for self-use at least. Several old references and books were scanned from libraries around China, especially from the lab of Prof. Weibo Song. Some were downloaded from the website of Prof. John Dolan. In May 2011, I copied a lot of old references in Prof. John Dolan’s office when I visited Villferanche-sur-Mer. In June 2012, the monograph <An illustrated guide to contemporary tintinnids in the world (in Chinese)> was published as the result of 15 years’ insistence. (Before the publication of this book, <An illustrated guide to marine planktonic copepods in China Seas (in Chinese)> was published in August 2010 as an accomplishment of the wish of my master period. The publishing of the later book laid good foundation for the tintinnid monograph. )

The next work is to compile the taxonomic data of aloricate ciliate into a book. In August 2012, we had finished the collection of almost all of the needed data. In August 2013, we signed the publishing contract with the press

Spreading and sharing taxonomic data of planktonic ciliates is the wish of several other ecologists. Prof. John Dolan scanned some available old references and put them on his webpage by himself. These pdf files are openly downloaded for free ( Prof. David Montagnes launched the “Planktonic Ciliate Project” (The user-friendly guide to coastal planktonic ciliates) and compiled the taxonomic data of about 30 species (now at

On September 13th, 2012, Prof. Mongtagnes visited Qingdao. I had the opportunity to discuss the ecology of marine planktonic ciliates with him. During the talk, he mentioned about the transfer of the “The user-friendly guide to coastal planktonic ciliates” to a new server. Although I have the intention to build such kind of website, I feel it is premature for me to do so because I am configuring the <An illustrated guide to contemporary aloricate ciliate in the world>. However, after a thinking of several minutes (David also noticed that I am thinking), I agree to try to transfer the website and to add new materials.

A research program granted to Prof. Chaolun Li built the website “Marine zooplankton Taxonomy Information Platform” ( I participated in this program and contributed 30 species of planktonic ciliates. On September 29th, during the inaugural ceremony of the R/V “Science”, I talked about the transfer of the “The user-friendly guide to coastal planktonic ciliates” to the existing “Marine zooplankton Taxonomy Information Platform”. Chaolun kindly agreed to the transfer

On December 25th, 2012, Weiwei Liu, who visited David in the previous month, copied the original files of “The user-friendly guide to coastal planktonic ciliates” to me. This website was copied to the physical server of ‘Marine zooplankton Taxonomy Information Platform’ by Mr. Zhencheng Tao about one week later.

The website of “Marine zooplankton Taxonomy Information Platform” was so famous that several scientists (e.g. Jay Vavra) asked its whereabout after its transfer. David was always putting an eye on the new site. He asked me about the failure of the new site several times. The failure was due to power shutdown in the case of bad weather. The server could not restart automatically when power is restored.

After the transfer, Meiping Feng (my PhD student) tried to learn the making of new webpages using the original method, which we found not so good to fit the new time. We invited Technician Xinyu Liu to build the new website while keeping the original one. After several meeting, Xinyu finished the framework. In October 2013, the adding of material to the website began.

In this introduction, I told the story about the birth and growth of the website just to indicate that this website was the common wish of two generations of planktonic ciliate researchers and, also, the output of the effort of them. Therefore, we inherit the original name and the logo of the project “Planktonic Ciliate Project”. We thank the people with names appeared above and those who contributed anonymously.  

We did not tell about the history and method of planktonic ciliate taxonomy. The user of this website was assumed to have learnt the basic knowledge of planktonic ciliate taxonomy, which is available in and

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Wuchang Zhang at