Biodiversity of plankton by species oscillations and chaos

J. Huisman, F.J. Weissing

    Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan wetenschappelijk tijdschrift/periodieke uitgaveArtikelWetenschappelijkpeer review


    Biodiversity has both fascinated and puzzled biologists(1). In aquatic ecosystems, the biodiversity puzzle is particularly troublesome, and known as the 'paradox of the plankton'(2). Competition theory predicts that, at equilibrium, the number of coexisting species cannot exceed the number of limiting resources(3-6). For phytoplankton, only a few resources are potentially limiting: nitrogen, phosphorus, silicon, iron, light, inorganic carbon, and sometimes a few trace metals or vitamins. However, in natural waters dozens of phytoplankton species coexist(2). Here we offer a solution to the plankton paradox. First, we show that resource competition models(6-10) can generate oscillations and chaos when species compete for three or more resources. Second we show that these oscillations and chaotic fluctuations in species abundances allow the coexistence of many species on a handful of resources. This model of planktonic biodiversity may be broadly applicable to the biodiversity of many ecosystems. [KEYWORDS: Limited growth; competition; phytoplankton; communities limitation; hypothesis]
    Originele taal-2Engels
    Pagina's (van-tot)407-410
    Nummer van het tijdschrift6760
    StatusGepubliceerd - 1999


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