The hypothesis that physical constraints may be as important, if not more important, thanbiological ones in shaping the structure of phytoplankton assemblage was tested by analyzing longterm (11–29 years) phytoplankton series in eight lakes and nine sites located along a latitudinal gradient in the Northern hemisphere. Phytoplankton biomass was used and similarity of assemblages in same months of the annual data sets was then calculated by subtracting the Bray–Curtis dissimilarity index from 1. The extent of biological and physical forcing was partly based on ‘‘expert evaluation’’: the importance of four physical (light availability, temperature, conductivity, and sediment stirring up) and five biological variables (basic nutrients [SRP-, DIN-, SRSi-availability] as estimatorsof competition straight, importance of grazing, and importance of parasitism) was evaluated month by month by arbitrarily scaling from 1 to 5 the intensity of each variable and then summing them in the appropriate subgroup. Since the number ofphysical variables is less than that of the biological ones, the latter was rescaled to reach the same maximum attainable value of physical variables. The results showed an extremely high variability, making evident that each lake, although showing the samemetabolic processes, behaves as an individual with regard to its phytoplankton structure. More generally, it was possible to highlight a largely more important role of physical constraints in shaping both biomass and composition of phytoplankton. This is especially true in winter. In addition, the results were compared to the outcomes of the PEG model, since a plasticityin the structure of phytoplankton much greater than that reported in this widely acknowledged model has been recorded in the data set used. This high variability found in this study in relation to physical constraints might also explain the different patterns of phytoplankton growth observed from Northern temperate to Mediterranean lakes as well as those occurring in shallow and deep lakes.
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science