Dimensions of marine phytoplankton diversity

Dutkiewicz, Stephanie; Cermeno, Pedro; Jahn, Oliver; Follows, Michael J.; Hickman, Anna E.; Taniguchi, Darcy A. A.; Ward, Ben A.

Biodiversity of phytoplankton is important for ecosystem stability and marine biogeochemistry. However, the large-scale patterns of diversity are not well understood and are often poorly characterized in terms of statistical relationships with factors such as latitude, temperature and productivity. Here we use ecological theory and a global trait-based ecosystem model to provide mechanistic understanding of patterns of phytoplankton diversity. Our study suggests that phytoplankton diversity across three dimensions of trait space (size, biogeochemical function and thermal tolerance) is controlled by disparate combinations of drivers: the supply rate of the limiting resource, the imbalance in different resource supplies relative to competing phytoplankton demands, size-selective grazing and transport by the moving ocean. Using sensitivity studies we show that each dimension of diversity is controlled by different drivers. Models including only one (or two) of the trait dimensions will have different patterns of diversity than one which incorporates another trait dimension. We use the results of our model exploration to infer the controls on the diversity patterns derived from field observations along meridional transects in the Atlantic and to explain why different taxa and size classes have differing patterns.

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Dutkiewicz, Stephanie / Cermeno, Pedro / Jahn, Oliver / et al: Dimensions of marine phytoplankton diversity. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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