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Oecologia. 2016 Mar;180(3):853-63. doi: 10.1007/s00442-015-3504-2. Epub 2015 Nov 20.

Stoichiometric implications of a biphasic life cycle.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, 48309-4401, USA. tiegs@oakland.edu.
2
Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, 48309-4401, USA. berven@oakland.edu.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, 48309-4401, USA. djcarmack@oakland.edu.
4
Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA. kcapps@uga.edu.
5
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, SC, 29802, USA. kcapps@uga.edu.

Abstract

Animals mediate flows of elements and energy in ecosystems through processes such as nutrient sequestration in body tissues, and mineralization through excretion. For taxa with biphasic life cycles, the dramatic shifts in anatomy and physiology that occur during ontogeny are expected to be accompanied by changes in body and excreta stoichiometry, but remain little-explored, especially in vertebrates. Here we tested stoichiometric hypotheses related to the bodies and excreta of the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) across life stages and during larval development. Per-capita rates of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) excretion varied widely during larval ontogeny, followed unimodal patterns, and peaked midway through development (Taylor-Kollros stages XV and XII, respectively). Larval mass did not increase steadily during development but peaked at stage XVII and declined until the termination of the experiment at stage XXII. Mass-specific N and P excretion rates of the larvae decreased exponentially during development. When coupled with population-biomass estimates, population-level excretion rates were greatest at stages VIII-X. Percent carbon (C), N, and C:N of body tissue showed weak trends across major life stages; body P and C:P, however, increased sixfold during development from egg to adult. Our results demonstrate that intraspecific ontogenic changes in nutrient contents of excretion and body tissues can be significant, and that N and P are not always excreted proportionally throughout life cycles. These results highlight the dynamic roles that species play in ecosystems, and how the morphological and physiological changes that accompany ontogeny can influence ecosystem-level processes.

KEYWORDS:

Amphibian; Development; Ecological stoichiometry; Nitrogen; Nutrient excretion; Nutrient mineralization; Ontogeny; Phosphorus; Rana sylvatica

PMID:
26589522
DOI:
10.1007/s00442-015-3504-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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