Phytoplankton Cell Size Reduction in Response to Warming Mediated by Nutrient Limitation

Peter, Kalista Higini and Sommer, Ulrich (2013) Phytoplankton Cell Size Reduction in Response to Warming Mediated by Nutrient Limitation PLoS ONE, 8 (9). e71528. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0071528.

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Shrinking of body size has been proposed as one of the universal responses of organisms to global climate warming. Using phytoplankton as an experimental model system has supported the negative effect of warming on body-size, but it remains controversial whether the size reduction under increasing temperatures is a direct temperature effect or an indirect effect mediated over changes in size selective grazing or enhanced nutrient limitation which should favor smaller cell-sizes. Here we present an experiment with a factorial combination of temperature and nutrient stress which shows that most of the temperature effects on phytoplankton cell size are mediated via nutrient stress. This was found both for community mean cell size and for the cell sizes of most species analyzed. At the highest level of nutrient stress, community mean cell size decreased by 46% per degrees C, while it decreased only by 4.7% at the lowest level of nutrient stress. Individual species showed qualitatively the same trend, but shrinkage per degrees C was smaller. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that temperature effects on cell size are to a great extent mediated by nutrient limitation. This effect is expected to be exacerbated under field conditions, where higher temperatures of the surface waters reduce the vertical nutrient transport.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000324481600011
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071528
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2013 08:16
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 07:45

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