Scales of disturbance and their role in plankton ecology

  • Colin S. Reynolds
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 81)


The role of hydraulic and hydrographic disturbances in delaying, arresting or diverting successional sequences from achieving stable, climactic equilibria is discussed by reference to case studies. The critical time scale is expressed in terms of planktonic reproductive generation times. Environmental constancy persisting over some 12–16 generations may permit a climactic condition to be achieved. An Intermediate Disturbance, if sustained, can establish a new successional sequence or, if not, can lead to a reversion to a sequence similar to the predisturbance succession. At intervals of ~ 1 generation time, species are selected according to their ability to accommodate disturbances at the physiological level. Highly disturbed environments are considered to be likely to maintain ‘plagioclimactic’ associations.

Key words

succession phytoplankton equilibrium intermediate disturbance diversity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin S. Reynolds
    • 1
  1. 1.Windermere LaboratoryFreshwater Biological Association, NERC Institute of Freshwater EcologyAmblesideUK

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