Multiple zooplankton species alter the stoichiometric interactions between producer and consumer levels


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berenike.bick [ at ] hifmb.de

Abstract

Planktonic primary consumers have been shown to strongly influence phytoplankton communities via top-down effects such as grazing and nutrient recycling. However, it remains unclear how changes in consumer richness may alter the stoichiometric constrains between producer and consumer assemblages. Here we test whether the stoichiometry of producer–consumer interactions is affected by the species richness of the consumer community (multispecies consumer assemblage vs single consumer species). Therefore, we fed a phytoplankton assemblage consisting of two flagellates and two diatom species reared under a 2 × 2 factorial combination of light and nitrogen supply to three planktonic consumer species in mono- and polycultures. As expected, phytoplankton biomass and C:nutrient ratios significantly increased with light intensity while nitrogen limitation resulted in reduced phytoplankton biomass and increasing phytoplankton C:N but lower N:P. Differences in phytoplankton stoichiometry were partly transferred to the consumer level, i.e., consumer C:N significantly increased with phytoplankton C:N. Consumer diversity significantly increased consumer biomass, resource use efficiency and nutrient uptake. In turn, consumer N:P ratios significantly decreased in consumer assemblages under high resource supply due to unequal changes in nutrient uptake. Consumer diversity further altered phytoplankton biomass, stoichiometry and species composition via increased consumption. Whether the effects of consumer diversity on phytoplankton and consumer performance were positive or negative strongly depended on the resource supply. In conclusion, the stoichiometric constraints of trophic interactions in multispecies assemblages cannot be predicted from monoculture traits alone, but consumer diversity effects are constrained by the resources supplied.



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Peer-reviewed
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Eprint ID
52057
DOI 10.1007/s00227-019-3609-y

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Plum, C. and Hillebrand, H. (2019): Multiple zooplankton species alter the stoichiometric interactions between producer and consumer levels , Marine Biology, 166 (163) . doi: 10.1007/s00227-019-3609-y


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