MEPS 379:1-12 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07909

FEATURE ARTICLE
Optimal phytoplankton cell size in an allometric model

Ariane Verdy1,*, Mick Follows1,2, Glenn Flierl2

1Earth System Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
2Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

ABSTRACT: The competitive ability of phytoplankton cells is simulated in a model chemostat in which cell size is considered to be an adaptive trait. Parameters describing nutrient uptake kinetics are constrained by empirically derived allometric rules. With a steady input of a single nutrient, the evolutionarily stable cell size is selected through competition among phytoplankton. We find that large cells may be favored when (1) phytoplankton growth is limited by the rate at which internally stored inorganic nutrients can be converted into biomass, and (2) maximum quotas increase with size faster than minimum quotas. Increased internal quotas then accelerate the rate of biomass production in large cells, despite their enhanced requirements for resources. The evolutionarily stable strategy is set by the allometric relationships for nutrient uptake kinetics and by metabolism.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton · Allometry · Nutrient uptake · Nutrient storage · Evolution · Evolutionarily stable strategy · Mathematical model


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Cite this article as: Verdy A, Follows M, Flierl G (2009) Optimal phytoplankton cell size in an allometric model. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 379:1-12. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07909

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