Phytoplankton in a changing world: cell size and elemental stoichiometry Academic Article uri icon


  • Global increases in atmospheric CO2 and temperature are associated with changes in ocean chemistry and circulation, altering light and nutrient regimes. Resulting changes in phytoplankton community structure are expected to have a cascading effect on primary and export production, food web dynamics and the structure of the marine food web as well the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and bio-limiting elements in the sea. A review of current literature indicates cell size and elemental stoichiometry often respond predictably to abiotic conditions and follow biophysical rules that link environmental conditions to growth rates, and growth rates to food web interactions, and consequently to the biogeochemical cycling of elements. This suggests that cell size and elemental stoichiometry are promising ecophysiological traits for modelling and tracking changes in phytoplankton community structure in response to climate change. In turn, these changes are expected to have further impacts on phytoplankton community structure through as yet poorly understood secondary processes associated with trophic dynamics.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 13.15

author list (cited authors)

  • Finkel, Z. V., Beardall, J., Flynn, K. J., Quigg, A., Rees, T., & Raven, J. A.

citation count

  • 814

complete list of authors

  • Finkel, Zoe V||Beardall, John||Flynn, Kevin J||Quigg, Antonietta||Rees, T Alwyn V||Raven, John A

publication date

  • January 2010