When it comes to marine plankton, the smaller you are the further you travel. A new international study found that the size of plankton, and the strength and direction of currents, are key to how they are dispersed in the ocean – much more so than physical conditions including differences in temperature, salinity and nutrient availability. Results of the study are being published in Nature Communications. “Organisms are constantly looking for a niche in which they can survive and there are pros and cons to being small,” said James Watson, an Oregon State University oceanographer and co-author on the study. “When you’re small, you are more abundant and you ride the currents further, which means you have more opportunities to find a good spatial niche. “The down side is that when you’re small, you get beat up a lot. You get eaten by bigger organisms. There are advantages to being small and fast, but there also are advantages to being big and strong.” The question of how plankton and other small marine organisms are distributed in the ocean is important, scientists say, because climate change is rapidly warming marine waters all over the globe and it isn’t yet clear how this will affect biological communities.