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Light, nutrients and grazing interact to determine diatom species richness via changes to productivity, nutrient state and grazer activity
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution.
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2009 (English)In: Journal of Ecology, ISSN 0022-0477, E-ISSN 1365-2745, Vol. 97, no 2, 326-336 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

1. Productivity and grazing pressure interact in determining autotroph diversity, because high productivity increases the capability of a plant community to compensate for grazing losses. However, further factors may play a role in shaping diversity, including primary producer nutrient stoichiometry and grazer activity. 2. Our study focuses on the interactions between light, nutrients and grazing in determining species richness and evenness of stream diatoms. By measuring primary producer productivity and nutrient content as well as grazer activity, we attempt to disentangle the different pathways by which the three factors affect diatom species richness and evenness. 3. We hypothesized that high light intensities and nutrient addition would increase species richness by increasing primary productivity and that higher levels of light and nutrients would compensate for negative grazer effects on species richness of primary producers. We also hypothesized that high light intensities would decrease the nutrient content of primary producers, especially when nutrients are limiting, whereas nutrient addition would increase primary producer nutrient content. Last, in addition to changing primary producer nutrient content, light and nutrients would also change grazer activity, thus modifying the interactions between light, nutrients and grazing. 4. We used periphyton and gastropod grazers in an experiment with circular stream channels with four nutrient, two light and four grazing levels to determine individual and combined effects on benthic diatom richness and evenness. After 3 weeks, we determined algal biomass, periphyton nutrient content, diatom species richness and evenness as well as grazer activity. 5. Our results showed that light and nutrients increased species richness and primary producer productivity and nutrient content. Grazing decreased species richness but only at low light levels, possibly because high light levels reduced grazer activity. Evenness was not affected by any single factor alone, but was influenced by nutrient-light and grazing-light interactions. 6. Synthesis. Light, nutrients and grazing interacted in determining primary producer species richness. Their effects were mainly mediated through changes in productivity but primary producer nutrient content and grazer activity also played important roles.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 97, no 2, 326-336 p.
Keyword [en]
benthos, diatoms, diversity, ecological stoichiometry, evenness, grazing, light, nutrients, productivity, species richness
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-137321DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2008.01463.xISI: 000263302000013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-137321DiVA: diva2:378218
Available from: 2010-12-15 Created: 2010-12-15 Last updated: 2010-12-15Bibliographically approved

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