In a new paper we reveal how the seasonal succession within plankton communities can be characterized in terms of a few key traits that govern the shifting trophic arrangements within the plankton community.
Seasonal succession in plankton is a phenomenon that plays out every year in our coastal waters. While the species succession may change considerably from year to year, we find that the characteristics how they feed (their trophic traits) follow a repeatable annual cycle. We can generalize these traits in terms of activity – from actively searching for resources passively waiting for resources to arrive – which is imprinted across all trophic levels. A simple model based on this trait description and the trade-offs that they are invariably subject to, successfully reproduces many of the features of the seasonal succession observed in nature. We propose that a trophic trait cascade is in effect structuring the plankton community and that changing physical conditions (essentially light, nutrient availability and turbulence) steers the principle axis of this cascade through an annual cycle.
The paper can be found here
Kenitz, K. M., Visser, A. W., Mariani, P. and Andersen, K. H. (2017), Seasonal succession in zooplankton feeding traits reveals trophic trait coupling. Limnol. Oceanogr.. doi:10.1002/lno.10494