WGPME gathers scientists from any discipline working with phytoplankton and other planktonic microbes but focuses mainly on ecological, taxonomic and chemical aspects. In addition to offering expert review and advice on sampling methods and diversity issues, the group also carries out phytoplankton and microbial plankton sampling activities in the North Atlantic and adjacent seas, performing comparative analyses of time-series in relation to climate variability, eutrophication and ocean acidification.
WGPME emerged from the Planning Group on Phytoplankton and Microbial Ecology in response to the long-recognized need within ICES to cover the lower trophic levels linkage between hydrography and zooplankton. As such, target organisms include viruses, prokaryotes from the Bacteria and Archaea domains, and single-celled photosynthetic, non-photosynthetic (microzooplankton) and mixotrophic eukaryotes.
The group is currently attended by some 20 scientists from more than 10 countries. Multi-annual Terms of Reference for the upcoming years (2013-2015) include the critical examination of microbial time-series sampling techniques, the assessment of changes in distributional patterns of phytoplankton and other microbial taxa with the aid of hydrographic models and new statistical tools, and the preparation of peer-reviewed manuscripts based on current microbial time-series data.
WGPMEs website was established at the groups first meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland, in March 2010. In 2012, WGPME published its first Phytoplankton and Microbial Plankton Status Report (ICES CRR No. 313).