Modelling interactions of food quality and quantity in homeostatic consumers

Authors

  • ROBERT STERNER

    1. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour, University of Minnesota, 100 Ecology, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St Paul, MN 55108, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author

ROBERT W. STERNER Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour, University of Minnesota, 100 Ecology, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St Paul, MN 55108, U.S.A.

Abstract

1. Boundaries between growth limitation by carbon (C) and phosphorus (P) in homeostatic heterotrophic consumers such as zooplankton will vary as demands on these two elements vary, as they should at different food quantities. At very low food quantity when production is close to zero, metabolic requirements (for carbon) become more important than growth requirements (for carbon and phosphorus in fixed proportion). Thus, the boundary separating C-and P-limited growth should be at a higher C : P ratio at low food quantity than at high food quantity.

2. A model including both metabolism and growth indicates that consumer growth should differ between foods of high vs. low phosphorus concentration only when food quantity is above a certain level. Thus, two foods might give identical consumer growth rates at low food quantity but give different consumer growth at higher quantity.

3. Solution of the model using parameters based on 2 mm Daphnia compared with a survey of C and P in seston of marine and freshwater sites supports earlier conclusions of the potential importance of food quality constraints on Daphnia growth.

Ancillary