Beyond the plankton ecology group (PEG) model: Mechanisms driving plankton succession

Ulrich Sommer, Rita Adrian, Lisette De Senerpont Domis, James J. Elser, Ursula Gaedke, Bas Ibelings, Erik Jeppesen, Miquel Lürling, Juan Carlos Molinero, Wolf M. Mooij, Ellen Van Donk, Monika Winder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

575 Scopus citations


The seasonal succession of plankton is an annually repeated process of community assembly during which all major external factors and internal interactions shaping communities can be studied. A quarter of a century ago, the state of this understanding was described by the verbal plankton ecology group (PEG) model. It emphasized the role of physical factors, grazing and nutrient limitation for phytoplankton, and the role of food limitation and fish predation for zooplankton. Although originally targeted at lake ecosystems, it was also adopted by marine plankton ecologists. Since then, a suite of ecological interactions previously underestimated in importance have become research foci: overwintering of key organisms, the microbial food web, parasitism, and food quality as a limiting factor and an extended role of higher order predators. A review of the impact of these novel interactions on plankton seasonal succession reveals limited effects on gross seasonal biomass patterns, but strong effects on species replacements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-448
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
StatePublished - Dec 2012


FundersFunder number
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences


    • food quality
    • grazing
    • lakes
    • light
    • oceans
    • overwintering
    • parasitism
    • pelagic zone
    • seasonal patterns


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