Phytoplankton succession in recurrently fluctuating environments

Roelke, D. L. and Spatharis, S. (2015) Phytoplankton succession in recurrently fluctuating environments. PLoS ONE, 10(3), e0121392. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121392) (PMID:25803437) (PMCID:PMC4372531)

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Coastal marine systems are affected by seasonal variations in biogeochemical and physical processes, sometimes leading to alternating periods of reproductive growth limitation within an annual cycle. Transitions between these periods can be sudden or gradual. Human activities, such as reservoir construction and interbasin water transfers, influence these processes and can affect the type of transition between resource loading conditions. How such human activities might influence phytoplankton succession is largely unknown. Here, we employ a multispecies, multi-nutrient model to explore how nutrient loading switching mode might affect phytoplankton succession. The model is based on the Monod-relationship, predicting an instantaneous reproductive growth rate from ambient inorganic nutrient concentrations whereas the limiting nutrient at any given time was determined by Liebig’s Law of the Minimum. When these relationships are combined with population loss factors, such as hydraulic displacement of cells associated with inflows, a characterization of a species’ niche can be achieved through application of the R* conceptual model, thus enabling an ecological interpretation of modeling results. We found that the mode of reversal in resource supply concentrations had a profound effect. When resource supply reversals were sudden, as expected in systems influenced by pulsed inflows or wind-driven mixing events, phytoplankton were characterized by alternating succession dynamics, a phenomenon documented in inland water bodies of temperate latitudes. When resource supply reversals were gradual, as expected in systems influenced by seasonally developing wet and dry seasons, or annually occurring periods of upwelling, phytoplankton dynamics were characterized by mirror-image succession patterns. This phenomenon has not been reported previously in plankton systems but has been observed in some terrestrial plant systems. These findings suggest that a transition from alternating to “mirror-image” succession patterns might arise with continued coastal zone development, with crucial implications for ecosystems dependent on time-sensitive processes, e.g., spawning events and migration patterns.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Spatharis, Dr Sofie
Authors: Roelke, D. L., and Spatharis, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 10(3):e0121392
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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