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Phytoplankton, not allochthonous carbon, sustains herbivorous zooplankton production
- Brett, Michael T., Kainz, Martin J., Taipale, Sami J., Seshan, Hari
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2009 v.106 no.50 pp. 21197-21201
- fatty acids, diet, phytoplankton, reproduction, lakes, aquatic food webs, Daphnia magna, Cryptomonas, zooplankton, lipid composition, food quality, herbivores, particulate organic carbon, leaves, stable isotopes, vegetation, Bacillariophyceae, Scenedesmus obliquus
- Terrestrial organic matter inputs have long been thought to play an important role in aquatic food web dynamics. Results from recent whole lake ¹³C addition experiments suggest terrestrial particulate organic carbon (t-POC) inputs account for a disproportionate portion of zooplankton production. For example, several studies concluded that although t-POC only represented [almost equal to]20% of the flux of particulate carbon available to herbivorous zooplankton, this food source accounted for [almost equal to]50% of the C incorporated by zooplankton. We tested the direct dietary impact of t-POC (from the leaves of riparian vegetation) and various phytoplankton on Daphnia magna somatic growth, reproduction, growth efficiency, and lipid composition. By itself, t-POC was a very poor quality resource compared to cryptophytes, diatoms, and chlorophytes, but t-POC had similar food quality compared to cyanobacteria. Small additions of high quality Cryptomonas ozolinii to t-POC-dominated diets greatly increased Daphnia growth and reproduction. When offered alone, t-POC resulted in a Daphnia growth efficiency of 5 ± 1%, whereas 100% Cryptomonas and Scenedesmus obliquus diets resulted in growth efficiencies of 46 ± 8% (± SD) and 36 ± 3%, respectively. When offered in a 50:50 mixed diet with Cryptomonas or Scenedesmus, the t-POC fraction resulted in a partial growth efficiency of 22 ± 9% and 15 ± 6%, respectively. Daphnia that obtained 80% of their available food from t-POC assimilated 84% of their fatty acids from the phytoplankton component of their diet. Overall, our results suggest Daphnia selectively allocate phytoplankton-derived POC and lipids to enhance somatic growth and reproduction, while t-POC makes a minor contribution to zooplankton production.