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Closed Access item The role of selective predation in harmful algal blooms

Authors:Solé, Jordi
García-Ladona, Emilio
Estrada, Marta
Keywords:Harmful algal blooms, Feeding avoidance, Toxicity, Plankton, Plankton, Predation
Issue Date:Aug-2006
Publisher:Elsevier
Citation:Journal of Marine Systems 62(1-2): 46-54(2006)
Abstract:A feature of marine plankton communities is the occurrence of rapid population explosions. When the blooming species are directly or indirectly noxious for humans, these proliferations are denoted as harmful algal blooms (HAB). The importance of biological interactions for the appearance of HABs, in particular when the proliferating microalgae produce toxins that affect other organisms in the food web, remains still poorly understood. Here we analyse the role of toxins produced by a microalgal species and affecting its predators, in determining the success of that species as a bloom former. A three-species predator–prey model is used to define a criterion that determines whether a toxic microalga will be able to initiate a bloom in competition against a non-toxic one with higher growth rate. Dominance of the toxic species depends on a critical parameter that defines the degree of feeding selectivity by grazers. The criterion is applied to a particular simplified model and to numerical simulations of a full marine ecosystem model. The results suggest that the release of toxic compounds affecting predators may be a plausible biological factor in allowing the development of HABs.
Description:9 pages, 5 figures
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2006.04.002
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10261/27295
ISSN:0924-7963
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