Atmospheric nitrogen deposition is associated with elevated phosphorus limitation of lake zooplankton

James Elser, Angela L. Peace, Marcia Kyle, Marcin Wojewodzic, Michelle L. McCrackin, Tom Andersen, Dag O. Hessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Here, we present data that for the first time suggests that the effects of atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition on nutrient limitation extend into the food web. We used a novel and sensitive assay for an enzyme that is over-expressed in animals growing under dietary phosphorus (P) deficiency (alkaline phosphatase activity, APA) to assess the nutritional status of major crustacean zooplankton taxa in lakes across a gradient of atmospheric N deposition in Norway. Lakes receiving high N deposition had suspended organic matter (seston) with significantly elevated carbon:P and N:P ratios, indicative of amplified phytoplankton P limitation. This P limitation appeared to be transferred up the food chain, as the cosmopolitan seston-feeding zooplankton taxa Daphnia and Holopedium had significantly increased APA. These results indicate that N deposition can impair the efficiency of trophic interactions by accentuating stoichiometric food quality constraints in lake food webs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1256-1261
Number of pages6
JournalEcology letters
Volume13
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • Nitrogen deposition
  • Phosphorus limitation
  • Stoichiometry
  • Zooplankton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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    Elser, J., Peace, A. L., Kyle, M., Wojewodzic, M., McCrackin, M. L., Andersen, T., & Hessen, D. O. (2010). Atmospheric nitrogen deposition is associated with elevated phosphorus limitation of lake zooplankton. Ecology letters, 13(10), 1256-1261. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01519.x