Metabarcoding analysis suggests that flexible food web interactions in the eukaryotic plankton community are more common than specific predator–prey relationships at Helgoland Roads, North Sea

Laura Käse, Katja Metfies, Alexandra C Kraberg, Stefan Neuhaus, Cédric L Meunier, Karen H Wiltshire, Maarten Boersma, Andrey Dolgov
2021 ICES Journal of Marine Science  
Various field studies on plankton dynamics have broadened our understanding of seasonal succession patterns. Additionally, laboratory experiments have described consumers ranging from generalists to selective grazers. While both approaches can give us a good understanding of the ecosystem and its dynamics, drawbacks in identification and a limited coverage of the ecosystem have left open questions on the generality of previous results. Using an integrative approach, we investigated water
more » ... taken at Helgoland Roads by metabarcoding to describe seasonal succession patterns of the whole plankton community. By use of network analysis, we also tried to identify predator–prey dynamics. Our data set depicted the strong seasonality typically found for temperate waters. Despite a stable background community surviving strong fluctuations, small and abrupt changes, such as pronounced blooms and random appearance of autotrophs, cause seasons to be quite different in an inter-year comparison. Main consumers were copepods, ciliates, and dinoflagellates, of which the latter were most abundant. Furthermore, our results suggest that zooplankton predators might favour specific prey during certain time periods but seem to be quite opportunistic otherwise throughout the year. The variability and potential for many different relationships in the plankton community might be an indicator of resilience in the system.
doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsab058 fatcat:tmewt7gehbgxdgi3kx23dbspvm