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Ecology and evolution of competitive trait variation in natural phytoplankton communities under selection


Gallego, Irene; Narwani, Anita (2022), Ecology and evolution of competitive trait variation in natural phytoplankton communities under selection, Dryad, Dataset,


Competition for limiting resources is a major force structuring ecological communities. Species minimum resource requirements (R*s) can predict competitive outcomes and evolve under selection in simple communities under controlled conditions. However, whether R*s predict competitive outcomes or demonstrate adaptive evolution in naturally complex communities is unknown. We subjected natural phytoplankton communities to three types of resource limitation (nitrogen, phosphorus, light) in outdoor mesocosms over ten weeks. We examined the community composition weekly and isolated 21 phytoplankton strains from seven species to quantify responses to selection of R* for these resources. We investigated evolutionary change in R*s in the dominant species, Desmodesmus armatus. R*s were good predictors of species changes in relative abundance, though this was largely driven by the success of D. armatus across several treatments. This species also demonstrated evolutionary change in R*s under resource limitation, supporting the potential for adaptive trait change to modify competitive outcomes in natural communities.


Data were collected experimentally, in outdoor mesocosms and in laboratory-controlled experiments

The folder "DATA" includes six files:

Three files with growth curves and growth rates of 21 strains that were isolated from outdoor mesocosms, and grown under 10 different levels of a given resource (light, nitrogen, phosphorous)

One file with Monod parameters and R* values for each resource (light, nitrogen, phosphorous), calculated at the species level (7 species).

One file with additional traits measured under laboratory-controlled experiments, at the species level: size, maximum growth rate across all resources, stoichiometry internal ratios, and R* values.

One file with taxonomic identification of all phytoplankton taxa grown in the outdoor mesocosms, and their abundances.


Swiss National Science Foundation, Award: 31003A_176069