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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 488:1-9 (2013)  -  DOI:

Species richness in marine phytoplankton communities is not correlated to ecosystem productivity

Pedro Cermeño1,*, Tamara Rodríguez-Ramos2, Maria Dornelas3, Francisco G. Figueiras4, Emilio Marañón2, Isabel G. Teixeira2, Sergio M. Vallina1

1Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (CSIC), Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
2Departamento de Ecología y Biología Animal, Universidad de Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain
3Centre for Biological Diversity, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK
4Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (CSIC), 36208 Vigo, Spain

ABSTRACT: Microorganisms attain high population densities, which has led microplankton ecologists to assume that samples of a few tens of millilitres suffice to characterize the assemblage of species. However, the observation that microbial plankton communities contain a large pool of species with low population densities casts doubt on the validity of estimates based on conventional sampling methods. By standardizing estimates of species numbers, we show that marine phytoplankton communities have been undersampled more severely in ecosystems of low productivity, thus leading to bias in the patterns of diversity reported previously. We found that phytoplankton communities from unproductive, subtropical waters fit to right-skewed, lognormal species-abundance distributions, which has long been interpreted to arise from incomplete censuses. The sampling-standardized estimates of species richness show no relationship with ecosystem productivity, arguing against the idea that phytoplankton diversity peaks at intermediate levels of primary production. These results suggest that these 2 fundamental properties of marine phytoplankton communities, viz. diversity and productivity, might not be linked mechanistically.

KEY WORDS: Diversity–productivity relationship · Rarefaction · Species abundance distribution · Undersampling

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Cite this article as: Cermeño P, Rodríguez-Ramos T, Dornelas M, Figueiras FG, Marañón E, Teixeira IG, Vallina S (2013) Species richness in marine phytoplankton communities is not correlated to ecosystem productivity. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 488:1-9.

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