MEPS 406:1-17 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08588

FEATURE ARTICLE
Modelling the effects of chromatic adaptation on phytoplankton community structure in the oligotrophic ocean

A. E. Hickman1,2,*, S. Dutkiewicz2, R. G. Williams1, M. J. Follows2

1Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
2Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 01239, USA

ABSTRACT: We explored the role of chromatic adaptation in shaping vertical phytoplankton community structures using a trait-based ecosystem model. The model included 1000 ‘phytoplankton types’ and was applied to the oligotrophic South Atlantic Gyre in a 1-dimensional framework, where ‘phytoplankton types’ refers to the model phytoplankton that were stochastically assigned unique physiological characteristics. The model incorporates multi-spectral optics and light absorption properties for the different phytoplankton. The model successfully reproduced observed vertical gradients in the nitrate, bulk phytoplankton properties and community structure. Model phytoplankton types with Synechococcus-like spectral light absorption properties were outcompeted at depth, where eukaryote-like spectral properties were advantageous. In contrast, photoinhibition was important for vertical separation of high-light and low-light Prochlorococcus model analogues. In addition, temperature dependence was important for selection of phytoplankton types on the temperature gradient. The fittest, or successful, phytoplankton types were characterised by combinations of simultaneously optimal traits that suited them to a particular depth in the water column, reflecting the view that phytoplankton have co-evolved multiple traits that are advantageous in a particular environmental condition or niche.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton · Chromatic adaptation · Photosynthesis · Niche · Modelling · Species · Selection · Pigments


Full text in pdf format 
Information about this Feature Article  
Cite this article as: Hickman AE, Dutkiewicz S, Williams RG, Follows MJ (2010) Modelling the effects of chromatic adaptation on phytoplankton community structure in the oligotrophic ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 406:1-17

Export citation: Endnote - Reference Manager
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -