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Bull Math Biol. 2013 Jul;75(7):1207-32. doi: 10.1007/s11538-013-9852-3. Epub 2013 May 22.

Dynamics of phytoplankton communities under photoinhibition.

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National Center for Theoretical Sciences, Hsinchu 300, Taiwan.


We analyzed a model of phytoplankton competition for light in a well-mixed water column. The model, proposed by Gerla et al. (Oikos 120:519-527, 2011), assumed inhibition of photosynthesis at high irradiance (photoinhibition). We described the global behavior through mathematical analyses, providing a general solution to the multi-species competition for light with photoinhibition. We classified outcomes of 2- and 3-species competitions as examples, and evaluated feasibility of the theoretical predictions using empirical relationships between photosynthetic production and irradiance. Numerical simulations with published p-I curves indicate that photoinhibition may often lead to strong Allee effects and competitive facilitation among species. Hence, our results suggest that photoinhibition may play a major role in organizing phytoplankton communities.

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