Microscale Patchiness of Nutrients in Plankton Communities

Science  14 May 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4547, pp. 729-730
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4547.729


Autoradiography was used to identify the presence of nutrient patches produced by zooplankton. Algal cells which encounter patches of phosphorus-33 released by swimming animals accumulate more label than cells that do not enter the patches. Differential labeling of algae does not occur when turbulence in the fluid is increased by stirring. Nutrient patchiness at the scale of millimeters or less in nature probably influences the course of competition and coexistence among the phytoplankton.