Too much of a good thing: On stoichiometrically balanced diets and maximal growth

Maarten Boersma, James Elser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

150 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nutritional imbalances are of great interest in the ecological stoichiometry literature, in which researchers have focused almost exclusively on cases where nutrients are available in low amounts relative to energy (carbon), and animal growth is impaired due to insufficient nutrient intake. Little attention has been given to situations where food elemental content is higher than the level that satisfies animal requirements. However, most animals are strongly homeostatic with respect to the elemental composition of their body; hence they must excrete the excess of elements that are not in short supply. To date, stoichiometric theory has assumed that excretion of superfluous elements does not come with a cost and, thus, that consumption of food with surplus nutrients does not impair performance. Here we challenge this assumption, based on a compilation of several examples involving food phosphorus content that show that the performance of a wide variety of animals decreases when supplied with food containing high concentrations of (potentially) limiting nutrients. We discuss possible mechanisms for this phenomenon, and suggest that animals most vulnerable to effects of high food nutrient content are those that normally feed on low- quality (low-nutrient: C) food, and have a relatively low body nutrient content themselves, such as herbivores and detritivores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1325-1330
Number of pages6
JournalEcology
Volume87
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2006

Fingerprint

diet
food
nutrients
nutrient
animal
animals
nutrient content
animal growth
detritivores
stoichiometry
surpluses
nutrient intake
food consumption
herbivores
excretion
researchers
phosphorus
carbon
herbivore
energy

Keywords

  • High-P food
  • Nutritional imbalance
  • Stoichiometry theory
  • Superfluous nutrients affect animal performance
  • Threshold elemental ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Too much of a good thing : On stoichiometrically balanced diets and maximal growth. / Boersma, Maarten; Elser, James.

In: Ecology, Vol. 87, No. 5, 05.2006, p. 1325-1330.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{e833f055cb9c45e0ac16876053dfb28c,
title = "Too much of a good thing: On stoichiometrically balanced diets and maximal growth",
abstract = "Nutritional imbalances are of great interest in the ecological stoichiometry literature, in which researchers have focused almost exclusively on cases where nutrients are available in low amounts relative to energy (carbon), and animal growth is impaired due to insufficient nutrient intake. Little attention has been given to situations where food elemental content is higher than the level that satisfies animal requirements. However, most animals are strongly homeostatic with respect to the elemental composition of their body; hence they must excrete the excess of elements that are not in short supply. To date, stoichiometric theory has assumed that excretion of superfluous elements does not come with a cost and, thus, that consumption of food with surplus nutrients does not impair performance. Here we challenge this assumption, based on a compilation of several examples involving food phosphorus content that show that the performance of a wide variety of animals decreases when supplied with food containing high concentrations of (potentially) limiting nutrients. We discuss possible mechanisms for this phenomenon, and suggest that animals most vulnerable to effects of high food nutrient content are those that normally feed on low- quality (low-nutrient: C) food, and have a relatively low body nutrient content themselves, such as herbivores and detritivores.",
keywords = "High-P food, Nutritional imbalance, Stoichiometry theory, Superfluous nutrients affect animal performance, Threshold elemental ratio",
author = "Maarten Boersma and James Elser",
year = "2006",
month = "5",
doi = "10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[1325:TMOAGT]2.0.CO;2",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "87",
pages = "1325--1330",
journal = "Ecology",
issn = "0012-9658",
publisher = "Ecological Society of America",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Too much of a good thing

T2 - On stoichiometrically balanced diets and maximal growth

AU - Boersma, Maarten

AU - Elser, James

PY - 2006/5

Y1 - 2006/5

N2 - Nutritional imbalances are of great interest in the ecological stoichiometry literature, in which researchers have focused almost exclusively on cases where nutrients are available in low amounts relative to energy (carbon), and animal growth is impaired due to insufficient nutrient intake. Little attention has been given to situations where food elemental content is higher than the level that satisfies animal requirements. However, most animals are strongly homeostatic with respect to the elemental composition of their body; hence they must excrete the excess of elements that are not in short supply. To date, stoichiometric theory has assumed that excretion of superfluous elements does not come with a cost and, thus, that consumption of food with surplus nutrients does not impair performance. Here we challenge this assumption, based on a compilation of several examples involving food phosphorus content that show that the performance of a wide variety of animals decreases when supplied with food containing high concentrations of (potentially) limiting nutrients. We discuss possible mechanisms for this phenomenon, and suggest that animals most vulnerable to effects of high food nutrient content are those that normally feed on low- quality (low-nutrient: C) food, and have a relatively low body nutrient content themselves, such as herbivores and detritivores.

AB - Nutritional imbalances are of great interest in the ecological stoichiometry literature, in which researchers have focused almost exclusively on cases where nutrients are available in low amounts relative to energy (carbon), and animal growth is impaired due to insufficient nutrient intake. Little attention has been given to situations where food elemental content is higher than the level that satisfies animal requirements. However, most animals are strongly homeostatic with respect to the elemental composition of their body; hence they must excrete the excess of elements that are not in short supply. To date, stoichiometric theory has assumed that excretion of superfluous elements does not come with a cost and, thus, that consumption of food with surplus nutrients does not impair performance. Here we challenge this assumption, based on a compilation of several examples involving food phosphorus content that show that the performance of a wide variety of animals decreases when supplied with food containing high concentrations of (potentially) limiting nutrients. We discuss possible mechanisms for this phenomenon, and suggest that animals most vulnerable to effects of high food nutrient content are those that normally feed on low- quality (low-nutrient: C) food, and have a relatively low body nutrient content themselves, such as herbivores and detritivores.

KW - High-P food

KW - Nutritional imbalance

KW - Stoichiometry theory

KW - Superfluous nutrients affect animal performance

KW - Threshold elemental ratio

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33646719859&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33646719859&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[1325:TMOAGT]2.0.CO;2

DO - 10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[1325:TMOAGT]2.0.CO;2

M3 - Article

C2 - 16761610

AN - SCOPUS:33646719859

VL - 87

SP - 1325

EP - 1330

JO - Ecology

JF - Ecology

SN - 0012-9658

IS - 5

ER -