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Merging elemental and macronutrient approaches for a comprehensive study of energy and nutrient flows

Wilder, Shawn M., Jeyasingh, Punidan D.
The journal of animal ecology 2016 v.85 no.6 pp. 1427-1430
Daphnia magna, animal ecology, animal physiology, body composition, ecological function, ecological imbalance, ecosystems, eggs, elemental composition, energy, fecundity, geometry, global warming, herbivores, life history, nutrients, photographs, predation, prediction, risk, stoichiometry
Global warming and predation risk can have important impacts on animal physiology and life histories that can have consequences for ecosystem function. Zhang et al. () recently tested the separate and interactive effects of warming and predation risk on the body composition of Daphnia magna. By measuring both the elemental and biochemical composition of individuals, they showed that D. magna body elemental composition responded opposite to theoretical predictions and previous studies but that these changes were explained by adaptive life‐history shifts in allocation to protein in eggs versus body lipid reserves. Photograph by Joachim Mergeay. Zhang, C., Jansen, M., De Meester, L. & Stoks, R. (2016) Energy storage and fecundity explain deviations from ecological stoichiometry predictions under global warming and size‐selective predation. Journal of Animal Ecology 85, 1431–1441. Understanding the mechanisms through which energy and nutrients flow through ecosystems is critical to predicting and mitigating the consequences of climate change and other ecological disturbances. Ecological stoichiometry and nutritional geometry, using data on elements and macromolecules, respectively, have independently made major contributions towards this goal. Zhang et al. () provide data demonstrating that these two major frameworks can provide complementary insight into the consequences of global warming and predation risk for the physiology and life‐history traits of a key aquatic herbivore, Daphnia magna. This study should catalyse further work to unite these two parallel and complementary frameworks.