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Nutrient limitation of decomposers in the travertine streams of the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona

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Many studies have shown that as the calcium carbonate precipitates, it sequesters phosphate. Although the geochemical interactions between phosphate and calcium carbonate are known, only a few studies have considered

Many studies have shown that as the calcium carbonate precipitates, it sequesters phosphate. Although the geochemical interactions between phosphate and calcium carbonate are known, only a few studies have considered calcium carbonate deposition's effect on stream ecology. Further, those studies considering decomposition have produced conflicting results. In this study, nutrient-diffusing cups with organic substrata were used to determine the nutrient limitation of decomposers in the travertine streams in the Huachuca Mountains. After processing a subset of the experiments, only one site (in Huachuca Canyon) from the four study streams was significantly nutrient-limited (NP co-limitation).

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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Response of a Stoichiometrically Imbalanced Ecosystem to Manipulation of Nutrient Supplies and Ratios

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Cuatro Ciénegas Basin (CCB) is a desert ecosystem that hosts a large diversity of water bodies. Many surface waters in this basin have imbalanced nitrogen (N) to phosphorus (P) stoichiometry

Cuatro Ciénegas Basin (CCB) is a desert ecosystem that hosts a large diversity of water bodies. Many surface waters in this basin have imbalanced nitrogen (N) to phosphorus (P) stoichiometry (total N:P > 100 by atoms), where P is likely to be a limiting nutrient. To investigate the effects of nutrient stoichiometry on planktonic and sediment ecosystem components and processes, we conducted a replicated in situ mesocosm experiment in Lagunita, a shallow pond located in the southwest region of the basin. Inorganic N and P were periodically added to mesocosms under three different N:P regimes (P only, N:P = 16 and N:P = 75) while the control mesocosms were left unamended. After three weeks of fertilization, more than two thirds of the applied P was immobilized into seston or sediment. The rapid uptake of P significantly decreased biomass C:P and N:P ratios, supporting the hypothesis that Lagunita is P-limited. Meanwhile, simultaneous N and P enrichment significantly enhanced planktonic growth, increasing total planktonic biomass by more than 2-fold compared to the unenriched control. With up to 76% of added N sequestered into the seston, it is suspected that the Lagunita microbial community also experienced strong N-limitation. However, when N and P were applied at N:P = 75, the microbes remained in a P-limitation state as in the untreated control. Two weeks after the last fertilizer application, seston C:P and N:P ratios returned to initial levels but chlorophyll a and seston C concentrations remained elevated. Additionally, no P release from the sediment was observed in the fertilized mesocosms. Overall, this study provides evidence that Lagunita is highly sensitive to nutrient perturbation because the biota is primarily P-limited and experiences a secondary N-limitation despite its high TN:TP ratio. This study serves as a strong basis to justify the need for protection of CCB ecosystems and other low-nutrient microbe-dominated systems from anthropogenic inputs of both N and P.

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Date Created
  • 2015-04-16

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Diet Composition Affects the Rate and N:P Ratio of Fish Excretion

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Nutrient recycling by fish can be an important part of nutrient cycles in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. As a result, understanding the mechanisms that influence excretion elemental ratios of

Nutrient recycling by fish can be an important part of nutrient cycles in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. As a result, understanding the mechanisms that influence excretion elemental ratios of fish is of great importance to a complete understanding of aquatic nutrient cycles. As fish consume a wide range of diets that differ in elemental composition, stoichiometric theory can inform predictions about dietary effects on excretion ratios.
We conducted a meta-analysis to test the effects of diet elemental composition on consumption and nutrient excretion by fish. We examined the relationship between consumption rate and diet N : P across all laboratory studies and calculated effect sizes for each excretion metric to test for significant effects.
Consumption rate of N, but not P, was significantly negatively affected by diet N : P. Effect sizes of diet elemental composition on consumption-specific excretion N, P and N : P in laboratory studies were all significantly different from 0, but effect size for raw excretion N : P was not significantly different from zero in laboratory or field surveys.
Our results highlight the importance of having a mechanistic understanding of the drivers of consumer excretion rates and ratios. We suggest that more research is needed on how consumption and assimilation efficiency vary with N : P and in natural ecosystems in order to further understand mechanistic processes in consumer-driven nutrient recycling.

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Date Created
  • 2015-03-01