Food chain effects of nutrient limitation in primary producers

Maarten Boersma*, Claes Becker, Arne M. Malzahn, Sonja Vernooij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The propagation of mineral limitation in primary producers to the second consumer level has rarely been investigated. Recently, it has been shown that limitation effects do travel up the food chain, not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively, and also that these quality effects affect the nutritional condition and growth of secondary consumers. The present study experimentally investigated the effect of phosphorus limitation in combination with fatty acid addition in primary producers (Scenedesmus obliquus) channelled through a primary consumer (Daphnia magna) on the condition of larval rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The C : P ratio and the fatty acid concentrations of the primary producers varied significantly with the phosphorus concentration of the culture media. These differences were also visible in the primary consumers (D. magna) feeding on the algae. The significantly different stoichiometry and fatty acid concentrations of the daphnids fed to larval trout did not lead to significant differences in growth, but the additional supplementation of fatty acid emulsions caused a significant increase in the condition of the fish. It was found that in the case of Daphnia as the primary prey for fish, with its relatively high phosphorus content even under phosphorus limitation, it is unlikely that phosphorus limitation affects fish condition and growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-989
Number of pages7
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecological stoichiometry
  • Homeostasis
  • Redfield ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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