Nav: Home

Novel methodological tool helps detect synergistic phenomena in phytoplankton growth

March 28, 2019

Researchers have developed a new model allowing them to observe the key drivers of phytoplankton growth (blooms) patterns in the seas surrounding the United Kingdom, according to a study in PLOS Computational Biology, by Lawrence W. Sheppard, from University of Kansas, USA, and colleagues.

The size of a bloom may vary in size over time, with different areas of the same ocean having synchronized fluctuations in phytoplankton growth- a phenomenon known as spatial synchrony. However, the primary mechanisms of phytoplankton spatial synchrony are not well understood. To better understand the spatial synchrony of phytoplankton blooms, the researchers developed a new statistical tool allowing them to observe the interaction among different variables influencing phytoplankton abundance over time.

Sheppard and colleagues identified a synergistic effect between the variables (water temperature and phytoplankton predation) influencing spatial synchrony. The statistical model they developed for the study also provides a new tool applicable in a range of ecological contexts. According to the authors, "The wavelet-based statistical modelling approach we used can be applied anywhere that different drivers with their own timescales are acting on an important natural variable, to quantify and disentangle their combined effects."

Although further research is needed to better understand the complex impacts of climate change on the spatial synchrony phenomenon, the authors are confident their new modelling approach provides a new method for analyzing the individual factors driving the synergistic effects occurring in different natural systems. The authors suggest, "This is the first time that such a reinforcement mechanism has been observed but it is reasonable to believe that it may be widespread in ecology and natural systems. Until our new methods were developed the statistical tools to detect this phenomenon did not exist."
-end-
Peer-reviewed; Simulation / modelling; Cells

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Computational Biology: https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006744

Citation: Sheppard LW, Defriez EJ, Reid PC, Reuman DC (2019) Synchrony is more than its top-down and climatic parts: interacting Moran effects on phytoplankton in British seas. PLoS Comput Biol 15(3): e1006744. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006744

Funding: LWS and DCR were partially supported by UK Natural Environment Research Council grants NE/H020705/1, NE/I010963/1, and NE/I011889/1 (https://nerc.ukri.org/), the James S McDonnell Foundation (https://www.jsmf.org/), US National Science Foundation grants 1442595 and 1714195 (https://www.nsf.gov/), and funding from the University of Kansas (https://www.ku.edu/). Travel was facilitated by US National Science Foundation grant 1225529 (https://www.nsf.gov/). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.