Similar patterns of patterns of community organization characterize distinct groups of different trophic levels in the plankton of the NW Mediterranean Sea

V. Raybaud, A. Tunin-Ley, Mark E Ritchie, J. R. Dolan

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Abstract

Planktonic populations were sampled over a 4 week period in the NW Mediterranean, at a site subject to little vertical advection during the Dynaproc 2 cruise in 2004. The characteristics of the phytoplankton, the tintinnid community and the zooplankton have recently been described in detail. Based on these studies, we compared the characteristics of 3 well-circumscribed assemblages of different trophic levels: Ceratium of the phytoplankton, herbivorous tintinnids of the microzooplankton, and large (>500μm) omnivorous and carnivorous copepods of the metazoan zooplankton. In all three groups, diversity as H' or species richness, was less variable than concentration of organisms. Plotting time against species accumulation, the curves approached plateau values for Ceratium spp, tintinnids and large copepods but only a small number of species were consistently present (core species) and these accounted for most of the populations. For Ceratium core species numbered 10, for tintinnids 11 species, and for large copepods, core species numbered 4 during the day and 16 at night. Ceratium, tintinnids and large copepods showed some similar patterns of community structure in terms of species abundance distributions. Ceratium species were distributed in a log-normal pattern. Tintinnid species showed a log-series distribution. Large copepod assemblages were highly dominated with night samples showing much higher abundances and greater species richness than day samples. However, species abundance distributions were similar between day and night and were mostly log-normal. The paradox of the plankton, describing phytoplankton communities as super-saturated with species, extends to the microzooplankton and zooplankton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-438
Number of pages8
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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