Amino acid composition reveals functional diversity of zooplankton in tropical lakes related to geography, taxonomy and productivity
Variation in resource use among species determines their potential for competition and co-existence, as well as their impact on ecosystem processes. Planktonic crustaceans consume a range of micro-organisms that vary among habitats and species, but these differences in resource consumption are difficult to characterize due to the small size of the organisms. Consumers acquire amino acids from their diet, and the composition of tissues reflects both the use of different resources and their assimilation in proteins. We examined the amino acid composition of common crustacean zooplankton from 14 tropical lakes in Colombia in three regions (the Amazon floodplain, the eastern range of the Andes, and the Caribbean coast). Amino acid composition varied significantly among taxonomic groups and the three regions. Functional richness in amino acid space was greatest in the Amazon, the most productive region, and tended to be positively related to lake trophic status, suggesting the niche breadth of the community could increase with ecosystem productivity. Functional evenness increased with lake trophic status, indicating that species were more regularly distributed within community-wide niche space in more productive lakes. These results show that zooplankton resource use in tropical lakes varies with both habitat and taxonomy, and that lake productivity may affect community functional diversity and the distribution of species within niche space.
KeywordsNiche breadth Crustaceans Plankton Productivity Tropical lakes
NA was supported by a graduate fellowship from Colciencias 1892–2006. JS was supported by a Fulbright Colombia Fellowship, JS and NTJ were supported by NSF DEB 1457737.
Author contribution statement
NJA, CG, AB and SD collected field samples and analyzed amino acids in the laboratory, NJA, JBS and NTJ analyzed the data, and all authors wrote and edited the manuscript.
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