Seasonal Succession

Lake Lucerne picture

Seasonal changes in weather have major effects on plankton communities. In temperate lakes, there is a growing season during the warmer months, after which organisms die off or form resting stages in winter. This environmental variation leads to a regular succession of species over the growing season, called seasonal succession. Although seasonal succession has long fascinated plankton ecologists, there have been few attempts to model this process mathematically. We are investigating seasonal succession with a combination of mathematical modeling, laboratory experiments, and analysis of long-term data from a range of Swiss lakes.



Christopher Klausmeier and Elena Litchman

Other Lab Members

Anne Schwaderer and Chris Steiner


Julie Bjornstad (GA Tech), Peter Bossard (EAWAG, Switzerland), Leonid Bunimovich (GA Tech), Leo Dachevsky (GA Tech) and Veronika Huber (IGB, Germany)


Steiner, C.F., A.S. Schwaderer, V. Huber, C.A. Klausmeier and E. Litchman. In press. Periodically forced food chain dynamics: model predictions and experimental validation. Ecology.


Klausmeier, C.A. 2008. Floquet theory: A useful tool for understanding nonequilibrium dynamics. Theoretical Ecology 1: 153-163.


Litchman, E. and B.L.V. Nguyen. 2008. Alkaline phosphatase activity as a function of internal phosphorus concentration in freshwater phytoplankton. Journal of Phycology 44: 1379-1383.


Litchman, E. and C.A. Klausmeier. 2001. Competition of phytoplankton under fluctuating light. American Naturalist, 157: 170187.

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Financial Support

Klausmeier, C. A., and E. Litchman. 2005-2008. QEIB: Novel Approaches to Plankton Seasonal Succession. NSF, Ecology Program (DEB-0610532)

Last updated: March 13, 2009