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Data from: Prey size diversity hinders biomass trophic transfer and predator size diversity promotes it in planktonic communities

Citation

García-Comas, Carmen et al. (2016), Data from: Prey size diversity hinders biomass trophic transfer and predator size diversity promotes it in planktonic communities, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.300k7

Abstract

Body size exerts multiple effects on plankton food-web interactions. However, the influence of size structure on trophic transfer remains poorly quantified in the field. Here, we examine how the size diversity of prey (nano-microplankton) and predators (mesozooplankton) influence trophic transfer efficiency (using biomass ratio as a proxy) in natural marine ecosystems. Our results support previous studies on single trophic levels: transfer efficiency decreases with increasing prey size diversity and is enhanced with greater predator size diversity. We further show that communities with low nano-microplankton size diversity and high mesozooplankton size diversity tend to occur in warmer environments with low nutrient concentrations, thus promoting trophic transfer to higher trophic levels in those conditions. Moreover, we reveal an interactive effect of predator and prey size diversities: the positive effect of predator size diversity becomes influential when prey size diversity is high. Mechanistically, the negative effect of prey size diversity on trophic transfer may be explained by unicellular size-based metabolic constraints as well as trade-offs between growth and predation avoidance with size, whereas increasing predator size diversity may enhance diet niche partitioning and thus promote trophic transfer. These findings provide insight into size-based theories of ecosystem functioning, with implications for ecosystem predictive models.

Usage Notes

Location

East China Sea