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Species dynamics in phytoplankton blooms: incomplete mixing and competition for light
Huisman, J.; van Oostveen, P.; Weissing, F.J. (1999). Species dynamics in phytoplankton blooms: incomplete mixing and competition for light. American Naturalist 154(1): 46-68

www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/303220
In: The American Naturalist. George W. Salt/University of Chicago: Salem, Mass.. ISSN 0003-0147, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Marine; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Huisman, J.
  • van Oostveen, P.
  • Weissing, F.J.

Abstract
    With the eutrophication of many freshwaters and coastal environments, phytoplankton blooms have become a common phenomenon. This article uses a reaction-diffusion model to investigate the implications of mixing processes for the dynamics and species composition of phytoplankton blooms. The model identifies four key parameters for bloom development: incident light intensity, background turbidity, water column depth, and turbulent mixing rates. The model predicts that the turbulent mixing rate is a major determinant of the species composition of phytoplankton blooms. In well-mixed environments, the species with lowest "critical light intensity" should become dominant. But at low mixing rates, the species with lowest critical light intensity is displaced if other species obtain a better position in the light gradient. Instead of a gradual change in species composition, the model predicts steep transitions between the dominance regions of the various species. The model predicts a low species diversity: phytoplankton blooms in eutrophic environments should be dominated by one or a few species only. The model predictions are consistent with laboratory competition experiments and many existing field data. We recommend examining competition in phytoplankton blooms under well-controlled laboratory conditions, and we derive scaling rules that facilitate translation from the laboratory to the field.

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