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Marine mixotrophy increases trophic transfer efficiency, mean organism size, and vertical carbon flux

Marine mixotrophy increases trophic transfer efficiency, mean organism size, and vertical carbon flux
Marine mixotrophy increases trophic transfer efficiency, mean organism size, and vertical carbon flux
Mixotrophic plankton, which combine the uptake of inorganic resources and the ingestion of living prey, are ubiquitous in marine ecosystems, but their integrated biogeochemical impacts remain unclear. We address this issue by removing the strict distinction between phytoplankton and zooplankton from a global model of the marine plankton food web. This simplification allows the emergence of a realistic trophic network with increased fidelity to empirical estimates of plankton community structure and elemental stoichiometry, relative to a system in which autotrophy and heterotrophy are mutually exclusive. Mixotrophy enhances the transfer of biomass to larger sizes classes further up the food chain, leading to an approximately threefold increase in global mean organism size and an ∼35% increase in sinking carbon flux.
0027-8424
2958-2963
Ward, Ben A.
9063af30-e344-4626-9470-8db7c1543d05
Follows, Michael J.
12c723bc-f2f8-43f4-a309-bff6885b9c7c
Ward, Ben A.
9063af30-e344-4626-9470-8db7c1543d05
Follows, Michael J.
12c723bc-f2f8-43f4-a309-bff6885b9c7c

Ward, Ben A. and Follows, Michael J. (2016) Marine mixotrophy increases trophic transfer efficiency, mean organism size, and vertical carbon flux. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (11), 2958-2963. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1517118113).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Mixotrophic plankton, which combine the uptake of inorganic resources and the ingestion of living prey, are ubiquitous in marine ecosystems, but their integrated biogeochemical impacts remain unclear. We address this issue by removing the strict distinction between phytoplankton and zooplankton from a global model of the marine plankton food web. This simplification allows the emergence of a realistic trophic network with increased fidelity to empirical estimates of plankton community structure and elemental stoichiometry, relative to a system in which autotrophy and heterotrophy are mutually exclusive. Mixotrophy enhances the transfer of biomass to larger sizes classes further up the food chain, leading to an approximately threefold increase in global mean organism size and an ∼35% increase in sinking carbon flux.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 22 December 2015
Published date: 15 March 2016

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 416691
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/416691
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: daceef14-1911-4d29-a752-de52b830d607

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Date deposited: 05 Jan 2018 17:30
Last modified: 18 Oct 2018 16:30

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