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Title: Multiple global change stressor effects on phytoplankton nutrient acquisition in a future ocean
Predicting the effects of multiple global change stressors on microbial communities remains a challenge because of the complex interactions among those factors. Here, we explore the combined effects of major global change stressors on nutrient acquisition traits in marine phytoplankton. Nutrient limitation constrains phytoplankton production in large parts of the present-day oceans, and is expected to increase owing to climate change, potentially favouring small phytoplankton that are better adapted to oligotrophic conditions. However, other stressors, such as elevated p CO 2 , rising temperatures and higher light levels, may reduce general metabolic and photosynthetic costs, allowing the reallocation of energy to the acquisition of increasingly limiting nutrients. We propose that this energy reallocation in response to major global change stressors may be more effective in large-celled phytoplankton species and, thus, could indirectly benefit large-more than small-celled phytoplankton, offsetting, at least partially, competitive disadvantages of large cells in a future ocean. Thus, considering the size-dependent responses to multiple stressors may provide a more nuanced understanding of how different microbial groups would fare in the future climate and what effects that would have on ecosystem functioning. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Conceptual challenges in microbial community ecology’.
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Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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