Plankton are a pivotal component of the diversity and functioning of coastal marine ecosystems. A long time-series of observations is the best tool to trace their patterns and variability over multiple scales, ultimately providing a sound foundation for assessing, modelling and predicting the effects of anthropogenic and natural environmental changes on pelagic communities. At the same time, a long time-series constitutes a formidable asset for different kinds of research on specific questions that emerge from the observations, whereby the results of these complementary studies provide precious interpretative tools that augment the informative value of the data collected. In this paper, we review more than 140 studies that have been developed around a Mediterranean plankton time series gathered in the Gulf of Naples at the station LTER-MC since 1984. These studies have addressed different topics concerning marine plankton, which have included: i) seasonal patterns and trends; ii) taxonomic diversity, with a focus on key or harmful algal species and the discovery of many new taxa; iii) molecular diversity of selected species, groups of species or the whole planktonic community; iv) life cycles of several phyto- and zooplankton species; and v) interactions among species through trophic relationships, parasites and viruses. Overall, the products of this research demonstrate the great value of time series besides the record of fluctuations and trends, and highlight their primary role in the development of the scientific knowledge of plankton much beyond the local scale.
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