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Data from: Effect of phytoplankton richness on phytoplankton biomass is weak where the distribution of herbivores is patchy

Citation

Weis, Jerome J. (2017), Data from: Effect of phytoplankton richness on phytoplankton biomass is weak where the distribution of herbivores is patchy, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jq07s

Abstract

Positive effects of competitor species richness on competitor productivity can be more pronounced at a scale that includes heterogeneity in ‘bottom-up’ environmental factors, such as the supply of limiting nutrients. The effect of species richness is not well understood in landscapes where variation in ‘top-down’ factors, such as the abundance of predators or herbivores, has a strong influence competitor communities. I asked how phytoplankton species richness directly influenced standing phytoplankton biomass in replicate microcosm regions where one patch had a population of herbivores (Daphnia pulicaria) and one patch did not have herbivores. The effect of phytoplankton richness on standing phytoplankton biomass was positive but weak and not statistically significant at this regional scale. Among no-Daphnia patches, there was a significant positive effect of phytoplankton richness that resulted from positive selection effects for two dominant and productive species in polycultures. Among with-Daphnia patches there was not a significant effect of phytoplankton richness. The same two species dominated species-rich polycultures in no- and with-Daphnia patches but both species were relatively vulnerable to consumption by Daphnia. Consistent with previous studies, this experiment shows a measurable positive influence of primary producer richness on biomass when herbivores were absent. It also shows that given the patchy distribution of herbivores at a regional scale, a regional positive effect was not detected.

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