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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00139

Discontinuity analysis reveals alternative community regimes during phytoplankton succession

  • 1Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
  • 2University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United States
  • 3Stockholm University, Sweden

Phytoplankton develops recurring spring and summer blooms, a well-recognized model in plankton succession theory. We used a 5-year (2007-2011) plankton data set and utilized discontinuity analysis to assess the cross-scale biomass (carbon content) structure in the sampled plankton data, a surrogate of ecological resilience and regime shifts. We hypothesized that spring and summer blooms comprise alternative community regimes, manifested in distinct cross-scale structure between these blooms. We also hypothesized that cross-scale structure within blooms is stable, indicating resilient regimes of individual blooms. Both hypotheses were supported by our analyses. Results show that discontinuity analysis provides complementary information about phytoplankton community succession compared to traditional taxonomic studies. This highlights that traditional phytoplankton successional models and ecological resilience concepts are not mutually exclusive. Combined they offer a broader view of ecological dynamics that may help refine theoretical ecology which in turn can inform management.

Keywords: Baltic Sea, resilience, Cross-scale structure, Phytoplankton, Blooms, Alternative regimes, discontinuities, community ecology

Received: 07 Dec 2018; Accepted: 07 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Agostino Merico, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (LG), Germany

Reviewed by:

Francesco Pomati, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Switzerland
Lance Gunderson, Emory University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Angeler, Allen, Twidwell and Winder. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. David Angeler, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden, david.angeler@slu.se