Variation within and between cyanobacterial species and strains affects competition: Implications for phytoplankton modelling
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Cyanobacteria Microcystis aeruginosa and Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii are two harmful species which co-occur and successively dominate in freshwaters globally. Within-species strain variability affects cyanobacterial population responses to environmental conditions, and it is unclear which species/strain would dominate under different environmental conditions. This study applied a Monte Carlo approach to a phytoplankton dynamic growth model to identify how growth variability of multiple strains of these two species affects their competition. Pairwise competition between four M. aeruginosa and eight C. raciborskii strains was simulated using a deterministic model, parameterized with laboratory measurements of growth and light attenuation for all strains, and run at two temperatures and light intensities. 17 000 runs were simulated for each pair using a statistical distribution with Monte Carlo approach. The model results showed that cyanobacterial competition was highly variable, depending on strains present, light and temperature conditions. There was no absolute ‘winner’ under all conditions as there were always strains predicted to coexist with the dominant strains, which were M. aeruginosa strains at 20 °C and C. raciborskii strains at 28 °C. The uncertainty in prediction of species competition outcomes was due to the substantial variability of growth responses within and between strains. Overall, this study demonstrates that within-species strain variability has a potentially large effect on cyanobacterial population dynamics, and therefore this variability may substantially reduce confidence in predicting outcomes of phytoplankton competition in deterministic models, that are based on only one set of parameters for each species or strain.
Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified