Modeling the Winter-to-Summer Transition of Prokaryotic and Viral Abundance in the Arctic Ocean

Christian Winter, Jerome P. Payet, Curtis Suttle

One of the challenges in oceanography is to understand the influence of environmental factors on the abundances of prokaryotes and viruses. Generally, conventional statistical methods resolve trends well, but more complex relationships are difficult to explore. In such cases, Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) offer an alternative way for data analysis. Here, we developed ANN-based models of prokaryotic and viral abundances in the Arctic Ocean. The models were used to identify the best predictors for prokaryotic and viral abundances including cytometrically-distinguishable populations of prokaryotes (high and low nucleic acid cells) and viruses (high-and low-fluorescent viruses) among salinity, temperature, depth, day length, and the concentration of Chlorophyll-a. The best performing ANNs to model the abundances of high and low nucleic acid cells used temperature and Chl-a as input parameters, while the abundances of high-and low-fluorescent viruses used depth, Chl-a, and day length as input parameters. Decreasing viral abundance with increasing depth and decreasing system productivity was captured well by the ANNs. Despite identifying the same predictors for the two populations of prokaryotes and viruses, respectively, the structure of the best performing ANNs differed between high and low nucleic acid cells and between high-and low-fluorescent viruses. Also, the two prokaryotic and viral groups responded differently to changes in the predictor parameters; hence, the cytometric distinction between these populations is ecologically relevant. The models imply that temperature is the main factor explaining most of the variation in the abundances of high nucleic acid cells and total prokaryotes and that the mechanisms governing the reaction to changes in the environment are distinctly different among the prokaryotic and viral populations. Citation: Winter C, Payet JP, Suttle CA (2012) Modeling the Winter-to-Summer Transition of Prokaryotic and Viral Abundance in the Arctic Ocean.

Functional and Evolutionary Ecology
External organisation(s)
University of British Columbia (UBC)
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106022 Microbiology
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