Portfolio effect and the predictability of natural phytoplankton population dynamics
- Author(s): Agarwal, Vitul
- Advisor(s): Barton, Andrew D
- et al.
Phytoplankton play important roles in marine food webs and biogeochemical
cycles. The ability to understand natural changes in phytoplankton populations are a
central goal in biological oceanography; however, the dynamics of phytoplankton
populations are often noisy and difficult to predict. The portfolio effect in ecology is a
concept that relies on the aggregation of data to reduce the variance of individual
populations. We test whether the aggregation of data across multiple species can help
improve the predictions of phytoplankton assemblages one month into the future. Using
empirical dynamic modelling, we assess the predictability of phytoplankton
assemblages in varying group sizes, and show that certain assemblages of
phytoplankton species are more predictable in groups rather than as individual species.