Microbial plankton communities will be boosted in productivity and biomass from warmer water temperatures provided sufficient nutrients are also readily available, suggest KAUST researchers.
The response of marine ecosystems to global warming depends on complex factors. The growth rates and activity of plankton communities are largely dictated by nutrient availability (bottom-up control), predation (top-down control) and changes in water temperature.
Warming will probably alter life in cold and temperate waters more dramatically than in the equatorial belt. Nutrients, which are necessary to enhance plankton growth, are generally more abundant in colder waters. If nutrient levels in the oceans drop due to rising temperatures, this will have a knock-on effect on aquatic lifeforms.