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Stibor, Herwig; Stockenreiter, Maria; Nejstgaard, Jens Christian; Ptacnik, Robert; Sommer, Ulrich (12. January 2019): Trophic switches in pelagic systems. In: Current Opinion in Systems Biology, Vol. 13: pp. 108-114
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Ecological studies need experimentation to test concepts and to disentangle causality in community dynamics. While simple models have given substantial insights into population and community dynamics, recent ecological concepts become increasingly complex. The globally important pelagic food web dynamics are well suited to test complex ecological concepts. For instance, trophic switches of individual organisms within pelagic food webs can elongate food webs or shift the balance between autotroph and heterotroph carbon fluxes. Here, we summarize results from mesocosm experiments demonstrating how environmental drivers result in trophic switches of marine phytoplankton and zooplankton communities. Such mesocosm experiments are useful to develop and test complex ecological concepts going beyond trophic level–based analyses, including diversity, individual behavior, and environmental stochasticity.