Temperature effects on stocks and stability of a phytoplankton-zooplankton model and the dependence on light and nutrients

J. Norberg, D. DeAngelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


A model of a closed phytoplankton-zooplankton ecosystem was analyzed for effects of temperature on stocks and stability and the dependence of these effects on light anti total nutrient concentration of the system. An analysis of the steady state equations showed that the effect of temperature on zooplankton and POM biomass was levelled when primary production is nutrient limited. Temperature increase had a generally negative effect on all biomasses at high nutrient levels due to increased maintenance costs. Nutrient limitation of net primary production is the main factor governing the effect of stocks and flows as well as the stability of the system. All components of the system, except for phytoplankton biomass, are proportional to net production and thus to the net effect of light on photosynthesis. However, temperature determines the slope of that relationship. The resilience of the system was measured by calculating the eigenvalues of the steady state, tinder oligotrophic conditions, the system can be stable, but an increase in temperature can cause instability or a decrease in resilience. This conclusion is discussed in the face of recent models that take spatial heterogeneity into account and display far more stable behavior, in better agreement to empirical data. Using simulations, we found that the amplitude of fluctuations of the herbivore stock increases with temperature while the mean biomass and minimum values decrease in comparison with steady state predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1997


  • Ecosystem
  • Eigenvalues
  • Indirect effects
  • Light
  • light versus indirect effects and temperature response
  • Microcosm
  • Nutrient availability versus temperature effect
  • Nutrients
  • Perturbation
  • Stability
  • Temperature effects
  • Temperature increase versus ecosystem stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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