Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 407523
Title Alternative Stable States Driven by Density-Dependent Toxicity
Author(s) Heide, T. van der; Nes, E.H. van; Katwijk, M.M. van; Scheffer, M.; Hendriks, A.J.; Smolders, A.J.P.
Source Ecosystems 13 (2010)6. - ISSN 1432-9840 - p. 841 - 850.
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2010
Keyword(s) eelgrass zostera-marina - distinguishing resource competition - fresh-water wetlands - vegetation dieback - baltic sea - ecosystems - sulfide - phytotoxicity - interference - populations
Abstract Many populations are exposed to naturally occurring or synthetic toxicants. An increasing number of studies demonstrate that the toxicity of such compounds is not only dependent on the concentration or load, but also on the biomass or density of exposed organisms. At high biomass, organisms may be able to alleviate adverse effects of the toxicant by actively lowering ambient concentrations through either a joint detoxification mechanism or growth dilution. We show in a conceptual model that this mechanism may potentially lead to alternative stable states if the toxicant is lethal at low densities of organisms, whereas a high density is able to reduce the toxicant concentrations to sub-lethal levels. We show in an example that this effect may be relevant in real ecosystems. In an earlier published experimental laboratory study, we demonstrated that ammonia toxicity in eelgrass is highly dependent on the eelgrass shoot density. Here, we used the results of these experiments to construct a model describing the complex interactions between the temperate seagrass Zostera marina and potentially lethal ammonia. Analyses of the model show that alternative stable states are indeed present over wide ranges of key-parameter settings, suggesting that the mechanism might be important especially in sheltered, eutrophicated estuaries where mixing of the water layer is poor. We argue that the same mechanism could cause alternative stable states in other biological systems as well.
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