allometric constraints on unicellular organisms and community structure

It is clear that the size of unicellular organisms can have important consequences for nutrient and light acquisition and metabolic rates. We have used idealized theoretical approaches to understand the consequences of empirically constrained relationships between key phytoplankton traits and cell size for fitness and the organization of microbial communities. In particular, we showed that the relative scaling of minimum and maximum cell quotas with cell volume allows for the fitness maximum to be for cells of intermediate size. Previously, it has been a long standing question as to why the smallest phytoplankton were not the fittest under all circumstances.

For more information

  • Verdy, A.,  M.J. Follows, and G. Flierl (2009). Optimal phytoplankton cell size in an allometric model. To appear in Marine Ecology Progress Series.
  • Verdy, A., G. Flierl, and M. Follows (2009). Evolutionary stable strategies for consumers in fluctuating  resources. In preparation.