Modelling mixotrophic functional diversity and implications for ecosystem function

Leles, SG, Polimene, L, Bruggeman, J, Blackford, JC, Ciavatta, S, Mitra, A and Flynn, KJ 2018 Modelling mixotrophic functional diversity and implications for ecosystem function. Journal Of Plankton Research.

Main document JPR Leles et al 2018.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


Mixotrophy is widespread among protist plankton displaying diverse functional forms within a wide range of sizes. However, little is known about the niches of different mixotrophs and how they affect nutrient cycling and trophodynamics in marine ecosystems. Here we built a plankton food web model incorporating mixotrophic functional diversity. A distinction was made between mixotrophs with the innate capacity for photosynthesis (constitutive mixotrophs, CMs) and those which acquire phototrophy from their prey (non-constitutive mixotrophs, NCMs). We present the simulations of ecosystems limited by different light and nutrient regimes. Our simulations show that strict autotrophic and heterotrophic competitors increased in relative importance in the transition from nutrient to light limitation, consistent with observed oceanic biomass ratios. Among CMs, cells <20 μm dominate in nutrient-poor conditions while larger cells dominate in light-limited environments. The specificity of the prey from which NCMs acquire their phototrophic potential affects their success, with forms able to exploit diverse prey dominating under nutrient limitation. Overall, mixotrophy decreases the regeneration of inorganics and boosts the trophic transfer efficiency of carbon. Our results show that mixotrophic functional diversity has the potential to radically change our understanding of the ecosystem functioning in the lower trophic levels of food webs.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal Of Plankton Research following peer review. The final version is available online at:
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > National Capability Modelling
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine System Modelling
Depositing User: Kim Hockley
Date made live: 05 Dec 2018 16:16
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2023 12:21

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item