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Journal Article

Implications of species addition and decline for nutrient dynamics in fresh waters

Krista A. Capps, Carla L. Atkinson and Amanda T. Rugenski
Freshwater Science
Vol. 34, No. 2 (June 2015), pp. 485-496
DOI: 10.1086/681095
Stable URL:
Page Count: 12

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Topics: Biomass, Mussels, Tadpoles, Species, Catfish, Nutrients, Fresh water, Excretion, Freshwater ecosystems, Animals
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Implications of species addition and decline for nutrient dynamics in fresh waters
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Abstract: In terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, organisms directly affect nutrient storage and cycling by sequestering nutrients via growth and remineralizing nutrients via excretion and egestion. Therefore, species introductions and extirpations can profoundly affect nutrient storage and remineralization rates, and present a challenge for conserving ecosystem function in fresh waters. The literature of consumer-driven nutrient dynamics is growing rapidly, but studies of consumer effects on nutrient storage and remineralization across species and among ecosystems are limited. We compared the effects of 3 grazing taxa, nonnative armored catfish in Mexican streams, native mussels in Oklahoma streams, and native tadpoles in Panamanian streams, on nutrient storage and remineralization. We examined interactions among organismal stoichiometry and biomass, nutrient storage, remineralization rates, and ecosystem size across these 3 groups following species decline (tadpoles and mussels) or introduction (armored catfish) to gain a better understanding of organism-specific effects on nutrient dynamics among freshwater ecosystems. Collectively, our results suggest that the ecosystem-level effect of consumer-driven nutrient dynamics is strongly influenced by environmental variables and is taxon specific. Major changes in biomass of stoichiometrically distinctive organisms can lead to subsequent changes in the flux and storage of elements in an ecosystem, but the overall effect of aquatic animals on nutrient dynamics also is determined by discharge and nutrient-limitation patterns in streams and rivers.

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