Date of this Version
2019 Angeler, Allen, Twidwell and Winder.
It is well-recognized in plankton ecology that phytoplankton development can lead to distinct peaks (i.e., blooms) during spring and summer. We used a 5-year (2007–2011) phytoplankton data set and utilized discontinuity analysis to assess resilience attributes of spring and summer blooms based on the cross-scale resilience model. Using the size structure (i.e., cross-scale structure as an indicator of resilience) in the sampled plankton data, we assessed whether spring and summer blooms differ substantially between but not within blooms; that is, whether they comprise alternative community regimes. Our exploratory study supported this expectation and more broadly resilience theory, which posits that ecological systems can manifest in and change between alternative regimes. The dynamics of regimes receives increased attention because rapid environmental change potentially irreversibly alters ecosystems. Model organisms are needed that allow revealing patterns and processes of various aspects of regime dynamics at tractable time scales. Our preliminary findings suggest that phytoplankton can be suitable models for assessing the intricacies of regimes and regime changes.