Understanding the stoichiometric limitation of herbivore growth: the importance of feeding and assimilation flexibilities

Jotaro Urabe, Yuichiro Shimizu, Toshiyasu Yamaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ecological stoichiometry suggests that herbivore growth is limited by phosphorus when this element in the diet is < 8.6 μg P mg C−1 (C : P atomic ratio > 300). However, in nature, it is not necessarily related to the relative phosphorus content in diets. This may be the result of complex feeding and assimilation responses to diets. We examined these possibilities using herbivorous plankton fed mono-specific and mixed algae varying in phosphorus content of 1.6 to 8.1 μg P mg C−1. The herbivores showed a 10-fold growth rate difference among the diets. Growth rates related poorly with phosphorus content in the diets (r2 = 0.07), better with P ingestion rate (r2 = 0.41) and best with phosphorus assimilation rate (r2 = 0.69). Inclusion of assimilation rates for carbon and fatty acids increased 7% of the explained growth variance. These results indicate that the feeding and assimilation flexibilities play pivotal roles in acquiring a deficient element and in regulating growth rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb

Keywords

  • Algal diversity
  • Daphnia
  • assimilation enhancement
  • carbon dioxide
  • compensatory feeding
  • ecological stoichiometry
  • growth rate
  • herbivorous plankton
  • nutritional complementarity
  • phosphorus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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