Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No S1 (2016)

Parameter constraints of grazing response functions. Implications for phytoplankton bloom initiation

Jordi Solé
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Emilio García-Ladona
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Jaume Piera
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Marta Estrada
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain


Phytoplankton blooms are events of production and accumulation of phytoplankton biomass that influence ecosystem dynamics and may also have effects on socio-economic activities. Among the biological factors that affect bloom dynamics, prey selection by zooplankton may play an important role. Here we consider the initial state of development of an algal bloom and analyse how a reduced grazing pressure can allow an algal species with a lower intrinsic growth rate than a competitor to become dominant. We use a simple model with two microalgal species and one zooplankton grazer to derive general relationships between phytoplankton growth and zooplankton grazing. These relationships are applied to two common grazing response functions in order to deduce the mathematical constraints that the parameters of these functions must obey to allow the dominance of the lower growth rate competitor. To assess the usefulness of the deduced relationships in a more general framework, the results are applied in the context of a multispecies ecosystem model (ERSEM).


algal blooms; plankton; prey selection; grazing functions; multispecies model; mathematical constraints

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