University of Chicago Press
The relationship between environmental productivity and species richness often varies among empirical studies, and despite much research, simple explanations for this phenomenon remain elusive. We investigated how phytoplankton and zooplankton coevolution shapes productivity-richness relationships in both phytoplankton and zooplankton, using a simple nutrient-phytoplankton-zooplankton model that incorporates size-dependent metabolic rates summarized from empirical studies. The model allowed comparisons of evolved species richness across productivity levels and at different evolutionary times. Our results show that disruptive selection leads to evolutionary branching of phytoplankton and zooplankton. Both the time required for evolutionary branching and the number of evolved species in phytoplankton and zooplankton tend to increase with productivity, producing a transient unimodal or positive productivity-richness relationship but followed by a positive productivity-richness relationship for both groups over long enough evolutionary time. Our findings suggest that coevolution between phytoplankton and zooplankton can drive the two common forms (unimodal and positive) of productivity-richness relationships in nature.
Pu, Z., Cortez, M.H., Jiang, L. Predator-prey coevolution drives productivity-richness relationships in planktonic systems (2017) American Naturalist, 189 (1), pp. 28-42.