Picture of wind turbine against blue sky

Open Access research with a real impact...

The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs.

The Energy Systems Research Unit (ESRU) within Strathclyde's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is producing Open Access research that can help society deploy and optimise renewable energy systems, such as wind turbine technology.

Explore wind turbine research in Strathprints

Explore all of Strathclyde's Open Access research content

Plankton abundance and dynamics across nutrient levels : tests of hypotheses

Murdoch, W.W. and Nisbet, R.M. and McCauley, E. and de Roos, A.M. and Gurney, William (1998) Plankton abundance and dynamics across nutrient levels : tests of hypotheses. Ecology, 79 (4). pp. 1339-1356. ISSN 0012-9658

Full text not available in this repository. (Request a copy from the Strathclyde author)

Abstract

In lakes and reservoirs in which Daphnia is able to suppress the biomass of edible algae far below the level set by nutrients, the interaction is stable across the range of nutrient-poor to nutrient-rich environments. This phenomenon contradicts standard con sumer-resource models, which predict that dynamics should become increasingly unstable with enrichment. We test four hypotheses that might account for stability at high-nutrient levels: (1) greater abundance of inedible algae with enrichment interferes with Daphnia's feeding; (2) Daphnia's death rate increases with enrichment; (3) Daphnia's death rate increases with Daphnia density; (4) Daphnia's functional response depends on Daphnia's density. All hypotheses are rejected because they predict much higher biomass of edible algae at high-nutrient levels than is observed. Additional evidence on Daphnia death rates strengthens the case against hypotheses (2) and (3). We consider other hypotheses and conclude that three in particular would repay further investigation. (a) Inedible algae act as a nutrient "sponge," reducing the effective carrying capacity for edible algae; (b) limited spatial movement can enhance stability through a metapopulation-like effect, and (c) stochastic variation among individuals can be stabilizing. The central problem investigated here is a general one, with implications for many consumer-resource systems.