Effects of nutrient limitations on three species of zooplankton
Nutrient imbalance—a mismatch in nutrient ratios between the available food supply and the demands of consumers—has the potential to be transported up food chains, exposing zooplankton to nutrient limitations. In this study, the response of Calanus sinicus (copepod), Moina mongolica (cladocera), and Brachionus plicatilis (rotifer) to nutrient-limited (no-limited, P-limited, and N-limited) food were evaluated from the perspective of growth, reproduction, and stoichiometric homoeostasis. The results indicated that the growth of three species was suppressed under nutrient-limited (especially P-limited) conditions. However, the effect of nutrient limitations on their reproduction was species-specific. For C. sinicus, the dietary UFA (unsaturated fatty acid) as a major phospholipid component affected their egg production and total FA supporting energy promoted the hatchability of eggs. Furthermore, excess carbon in the diet promoted egg production but reduced hatching success. For M. mongolica, nutritional (P and UFA) and energy (total FA) support affected their fecundity. B. plicatilis fecundity exhibited the same pattern of growth (no-limited>N-limited>P-limited). In terms of stoichiometric homeostasis, B. plicatilis’s elemental compositions were less likely to be affected by nutrient limitations than M. mongolica. We suggest that the effects of nutrient imbalances could potentially become an evolutionary force affecting ecosystem structure and stability in eutrophic waters.
Keywordszooplankton nutrient growth reproduction stoichiometric homoeostasis
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The authors thank the crew on R/V Beidou for their assistance in the field. We are grateful to Jin Xin and Ji Peng for their invaluable help during shipboard research activities.
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