Phytoplankton Functional Diversity Promotes Nutrient Resource Use Efficiency in Aquatic Ecosystems

The absorption and removal of nitrogen and phosphorus by phytoplankton is one of the basic functions that the aquatic ecosystem provides.  

In recent years, many studies have shown that functional diversity based on biological trait can explain the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function much better than the traditional method, but how trait-based functional diversity affects ecosystem functioning and processes in aquatic ecosystems still remains unclear.   

Researchers from the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators examined the causal relationship between phytoplankton functional diversity and nutrient use efficiency based on long-term field data.    

They disclosed that phytoplankton functional diversity could promote nutrient resource use efficiency in aquatic ecosystems and phytoplankton functional diversity could significantly improve its nutrient use efficiency by the way of habitat niche differentiation.    

The results suggested that a good phytoplankton community (high functional diversity) could absorb and utilize nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients more efficiently in water, and provide better ecosystem services for water purification, no matter for fresh water or marine ecosystem.   

Relevant results were published in Journal of Ecology. This research could help the public to have a better understanding of phytoplankton diversity and ecosystem functions, and it was helpful for carrying out ecological restoration and sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems. 


Sketch map of phytoplankton diversity enhances nutrient resource use efficiency (Image by IHB)