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Journal Article

Physiological responses to stoichiometric constraints: nutrient limitation and compensatory feeding in a freshwater snail

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56672

Fink,  Patrick
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56660

Von Elert,  Eric
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Fink, P., & Von Elert, E. (2006). Physiological responses to stoichiometric constraints: nutrient limitation and compensatory feeding in a freshwater snail. Oikos, 115(3), 484-494.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-D819-A
Abstract
Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are considered to be essential nutrients that control secondary production in various ecosystems; insufficient availability of N and P can limit herbivore growth. Here, data are presented from field samplings and from a laboratory experiment on the potential of primary producers low in P, N, or P and N to constrain growth of the freshwater gastropod Radix ovata. The filamentous green alga Ulothrix fimbriata was cultured under different nutrient regimes, resulting in algae with different C:N:P ratios. The pure algae were fed in high and low quantities to juvenile R. ovata. Low availability of N and especially P in the algae strongly constrained the biomass accrual of the herbivore. In accordance with theoretical predictions, these food quality differences were highly dependent on the food quantity. The snails' growth rate was significantly related to their body C:P ratio, thereby supporting the growth rate hypothesis. R. ovata displayed a pronounced compensatory feeding response to low-nutrient food that could partly dampen but not fully compensate the food quality effects on snail growth. Increased feeding of gastropods at low P and/or N availability leads to depletion of periphyton biomass; hence compensatory feeding would shift the benthic herbivore community from a P or N limitation to a C limitation and thus have whole-ecosystem effects.