The turnover and distribution of energy and nutrients in food webs is influenced by consumer stoichiometry. Although the stoichiometry of heterotrophs is generally considered to vary only little, there may be intraspecific variation due to factors such as habitat, resources, ontogeny and size. We examined intraspecific variation in Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis stoichiometry, a common species that exhibits habitat and resource specialization, ontogenetic niche shifts and a large size range. This study investigated the elemental stoichiometry of a wide size range of perch from littoral and pelagic habitats. The mean C:N:P stoichiometry of whole perch was 37:9:1 (molar ratios). However, %C, %P, C:N, C:P and N:P varied with size, morphology, habitat and diet category. These factors together explained 24-40% of the variation in C:N:P stoichiometry. In contrast, perch stoichiometry was not related to diet stoichiometry, suggesting that the former is homeostatically regulated. The results suggest that the high P content of perch may result in stoichiometric constraints on the growth of non-piscivorous perch, and that piscivory is an efficient strategy for acquiring P. Resource polymorphism, individual diet specialization and intraspecific size variation are widespread among animals. Thus changes in stoichiometry with size, habitat, morphology and resource use, and therefore also stoichiometric demands, are probably common.
2011. Vol. 120, no 6, 886-896 p.