Response of Daphnia feeding rate to food C:P ratio: a test for the ""stoichiometric knife edge"" mechanism
It is well known that deficiencies in key chemical elements (such as phosphorus, P) can reduce animal growth; however, recent empirical data have shown that high levels of dietary nutrients can also reduce animal growth. In ecological stoichiometry, this phenomenon is known as the "stoichiometric knife edge," but its underlying mechanisms are not well-known. Previous work has suggested that the crustacean zooplankter Daphnia reduces its feeding rates on phosphorus-rich food, causing low growth due to insufficient C (energy) intake. To test for this mechanism, feeding rates of Daphnia magna on algae (Scenedesmus acutus) differing in C:P ratio (P content) were determined. Overall, there was a significant difference among all treatments for feeding rate (p < 0.05) with generally higher feeding rates on P-rich algae. These data indicate that both high and low food C:P ratio do affect Daphnia feeding rate but are in contradiction with previous work that showed that P-rich food led to strong reductions in feeding rate. Additional experiments are needed to gain further insights.