Stoichiometric impacts of environmental disturbance on the trophic dynamics of plankton communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent environmental disturbances arising from local and global changes can be viewed as alternations of the absolute and relative inputs of light, nutrients and CO2, which are the energy and material basics for sustaining ecosystems. How changes in the balance of these inputs affect trophic interactions is, however, poorly understood. With some examples in lake ecosystems, I demonstrate that trophic interactions sometime behave in paradoxical ways, but such outcomes are easily understood if considered in a stoichiometric context. The "paradox of energy enrichment" is one example. Ecological common sense says that decreased solar energy should reduce herbivore production because of reduced energy flow through primary producers. However, in a nutrient limited lake, a paradoxical increase in production of herbivorous plankton occurs by shading. This is caused by improving the of plant nutritional quality (C: N: P ratios) by shading, which outweighs the decrease in primary production. Another example is "CO2 effect under dim light." Traditionally, aquatic plants (algae) are believed to be less affected by changes in CO2 concentrations due, primarily, to their ability to utilize the rich bicarbonate ions found in natural waters. However, active uptake of bicarbonate ions by algae accompanies energetic costs. Therefore, under suboptimal light conditions, increases in aqueous CO2 concentration stimulates algal growth but reduces algal nutrient: carbon ratio, which in turn acts to decrease carbon use efficiency of aquatic herbivores. Thus, to understand ecosystem responses to environmental disturbances, we need to take into account interplays of multiple environmental factors. Ecological stoichiometry is a key in analyzing and predicting such effects on trophic dynamics in ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of the Plankton Society of Japan
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Nov 6
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Ecological transfer efficiency
  • Lake ecosystems
  • Light
  • Stoichiometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Stoichiometric impacts of environmental disturbance on the trophic dynamics of plankton communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this