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Lake ecosystem robustness and resilience inferred from a climate-stressed protistan plankton network


Forster, Dominik; Qu, Zhishuai; Pitsch, Gianna; Bruni, Estelle P; Kammerlander, Barbara; Pröschold, Thomas; Sonntag, Bettina; Posch, Thomas; Stoeck, Thorsten (2021). Lake ecosystem robustness and resilience inferred from a climate-stressed protistan plankton network. Microorganisms, 9(2):549.

Abstract

Network analyses of biological communities allow for identifying potential consequences of climate change on the resilience of ecosystems and their robustness to resist stressors. Using DNA metabarcoding datasets from a three-year-sampling (73 samples), we constructed the protistan plankton co-occurrence network of Lake Zurich, a model lake ecosystem subjected to climate change. Despite several documentations of dramatic lake warming in Lake Zurich, our study provides an unprecedented perspective by linking changes in biotic association patterns to climate stress. Water temperature belonged to the strongest environmental parameters splitting the data into two distinct seasonal networks (October–April; May–September). The expected ecological niche of phytoplankton, weakened through nutrient depletion because of permanent thermal stratification and through parasitic fungi, was occupied by the cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens and mixotrophic nanoflagellates. Instead of phytoplankton, bacteria and nanoflagellates were the main prey organisms associated with key predators (ciliates), which contrasts traditional views of biological associations in lake plankton. In a species extinction scenario, the warm season network emerged as more vulnerable than the cold season network, indicating a time-lagged effect of warmer winter temperatures on the communities. We conclude that climate stressors compromise lake ecosystem robustness and resilience through species replacement, richness differences, and succession as indicated by key network properties.

Abstract

Network analyses of biological communities allow for identifying potential consequences of climate change on the resilience of ecosystems and their robustness to resist stressors. Using DNA metabarcoding datasets from a three-year-sampling (73 samples), we constructed the protistan plankton co-occurrence network of Lake Zurich, a model lake ecosystem subjected to climate change. Despite several documentations of dramatic lake warming in Lake Zurich, our study provides an unprecedented perspective by linking changes in biotic association patterns to climate stress. Water temperature belonged to the strongest environmental parameters splitting the data into two distinct seasonal networks (October–April; May–September). The expected ecological niche of phytoplankton, weakened through nutrient depletion because of permanent thermal stratification and through parasitic fungi, was occupied by the cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens and mixotrophic nanoflagellates. Instead of phytoplankton, bacteria and nanoflagellates were the main prey organisms associated with key predators (ciliates), which contrasts traditional views of biological associations in lake plankton. In a species extinction scenario, the warm season network emerged as more vulnerable than the cold season network, indicating a time-lagged effect of warmer winter temperatures on the communities. We conclude that climate stressors compromise lake ecosystem robustness and resilience through species replacement, richness differences, and succession as indicated by key network properties.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Microbiology
Life Sciences > Virology
Health Sciences > Microbiology (medical)
Language:English
Date:6 March 2021
Deposited On:26 Mar 2021 11:01
Last Modified:26 Mar 2024 02:35
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2076-2607
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9030549
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)