Competition Drives Clumpy Species Coexistence in Estuarine Phytoplankton

Segura, AM, Kruk, C, Calliari, D, García-Rodriguez, F, Conde, D, Widdicombe, CE and Fort, H 2013 Competition Drives Clumpy Species Coexistence in Estuarine Phytoplankton. Scientific Reports, 3.

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Understanding the mechanisms that maintain biodiversity is a fundamental problem in ecology. Competition is thought to reduce diversity, but hundreds of microbial aquatic primary producers species coexist and compete for a few essential resources (e.g., nutrients and light). Here, we show that resource competition is a plausible mechanism for explaining clumpy distribution on individual species volume (a proxy for the niche) of estuarine phytoplankton communities ranging from North America to South America and Europe, supporting the Emergent Neutrality hypothesis. Furthermore, such a clumpy distribution was also observed throughout the Holocene in diatoms from a sediment core. A Lotka-Volterra competition model predicted position in the niche axis and functional affiliation of dominant species within and among clumps. Results support the coexistence of functionally equivalent species in ecosystems and indicate that resource competition may be a key process to shape the size structure of estuarine phytoplankton, which in turn drives ecosystem functioning.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Subjects: Marine Sciences
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Life Support Systems (expired)
Depositing User: Mrs Julia Crocker
Date made live: 27 Feb 2014 17:09
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2018 11:15

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