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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Phytoplankton consumption by sessile invertebrates is affected by diversity in morphology and feeding mechanisms. Photo: Matthew A. Whalen

Whalen MA, Stachowicz JJ


Suspension feeder diversity enhances community filtration rates in different flow environments

Species diversity is increasingly linked to higher and less variable rates of ecosystem processes, yet the degree to which biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships are modified by environmental conditions is unclear for most systems. Using assemblages of suspension feeding invertebrates, Whalen & Stachowicz found that species diversity enhanced community filtration rates both in the presence and absence of directional water flow, suggesting that diversity effects are robust to this form of environmental variation. Surprisingly, no evidence for size selective feeding across a wide range of phytoplankton cell sizes (~2–80µm) was found, eliminating food complementarity as a potential mechanism responsible for the effects of species diversity on water filtration.


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