"Trophic overyielding": Phytoplankton diversity promotes zooplankton productivity

Maren Striebel*, Gabriel Singer, Herwig Stibor, Tom Andersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Diversity-productivity relationships at the primary producer level have been extensively studied, especially for terrestrial systems. Here, we explore whether the diversity of aquatic primary producers (phytoplankton) has effects on higher trophic levels (zooplankton). We investigated the effect of phytoplankton diversity on an artificial zooplankton community in a laboratory experiment where phytoplankton biomass and elemental composition (carbon-to-phosphorus ratio) were kept constant. Phytoplankton diversity increased the means of both zooplankton growth rate and abundance while suppressing their variability, and sustained higher zooplankton diversity. Likely explanations include resource complementarity effects among phytoplankton species as food entities, as well as niche complementarity effects among Daphnia species as competitors. By affecting the productivity as well as the variability of the next trophic level, biodiversity of primary producers may have far-reaching consequences in aquatic food webs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2719-2727
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Biodiversity
  • Complementarity
  • Facilitation
  • Plankton
  • Predictability
  • Productivity
  • Reliability
  • Trophic transfer


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