Stoichiometric traits of stickleback: Effects of genetic background, rearing environment, and ontogeny.
ABSTRACT: Phenotypes can both evolve in response to, and affect, ecosystem change, but few examples of diverging ecosystem-effect traits have been investigated. Bony armor traits of fish are good candidates for this because they evolve rapidly in some freshwater fish populations, and bone is phosphorus rich and likely to affect nutrient recycling in aquatic ecosystems. Here, we explore how ontogeny, rearing environment, and bone allocation among body parts affect the stoichiometric phenotype (i.e., stoichiometric composition of bodies and excretion) of threespine stickleback. We use two populations from distinct freshwater lineages with contrasting lateral plating phenotypes (full vs. low plating) and their hybrids, which are mostly fully plated. We found that ontogeny, rearing environment, and body condition were the most important predictors of organismal stoichiometry. Although elemental composition was similar between both populations and their hybrids, we found significant divergence in phosphorus allocation among body parts and in phosphorus excretion rates. Overall, body armor differences did not explain variation in whole body phosphorus, phosphorus allocation, or phosphorus excretion. Evolutionary divergence between these lineages in both allocation and excretion is likely to have important direct consequences for ecosystems, but may be mediated by evolution of multiple morphological or physiological traits beyond plating phenotype.
Project description:Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are important limiting nutrients for plant production and consumer performance in a variety of ecosystems. As a result, the N:P stoichiometry of herbivores has received increased attention in ecology. However, the mechanisms by which herbivores maintain N:P stoichiometric homeostasis are poorly understood. Here, using a field manipulation experiment we show that the grasshopper Oedaleus asiaticus maintains strong N:P stoichiometric homeostasis regardless of whether grasshoppers were reared at low or high density. Grasshoppers maintained homeostasis by increasing P excretion when eating plants with higher P contents. However, while grasshoppers also maintained constant body N contents, we found no changes in N excretion in response to changing plant N content over the range measured. These results suggest that O. asiaticus maintains P homeostasis primarily by changing P absorption and excretion rates, but that other mechanisms may be more important for regulating N homeostasis. Our findings improve our understanding of consumer-driven P recycling and may help in understanding the factors affecting plant-herbivore interactions and ecosystem processes in grasslands.
Project description:Allocation of limited nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), among plant organs reflects the influences of evolutionary and ecological processes on functional traits of plants, and thus is related to functional groups and environmental conditions. In this study, we tested this hypothesis by exploring the stoichiometric scaling of N and P concentrations between twig stems and leaves of 335 woody species from 12 forest sites across eastern China. Scaling exponents of twig stem N (or P) to leaf N (or P) varied among functional groups. With increasing latitude, these scaling exponents significantly decreased from >1 at low latitude to <1 at high latitude across the study area. These results suggested that, as plant nutrient concentration increased, plants at low latitudes showed a faster increase in twig stem nutrient concentration, whereas plants at high latitudes presented a faster increase in leaf nutrient concentration. Such shifts in nutrient allocation strategy from low to high latitudes may be controlled by temperature. Overall, our findings provide a new approach to explore plant nutrient allocation strategies by analysing the stoichiometric scaling of nutrients among organs, which could broaden our understanding of the interactions between plants and their environments.
Project description:Besides water relations, nutrient allocation, and stoichiometric traits are fundamental feature of shrubs. Knowledge concerning the nutrient stoichiometry of xerophytes is essential to predicting the biogeochemical cycling in desert ecosystems as well as to understanding the homoeostasis and variability of nutrient traits in desert plants. Here, we focused on the temperate desert species Reaumuria soongorica and collected samples from plant organs and soil over 28 different locations that covered a wide distributional gradient of this species. Carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) concentrations and their stoichiometry were determined and subsequently compared with geographic, climatic, and edaphic factors. The mean leaf C, N, and P concentrations and C/N, C/P, and N/P ratios were 371.6 mg g(-1), 10.6 mg g(-1), 0.73 mg g(-1), and 59.7, 837.9, 15.7, respectively. Stem and root C concentrations were higher than leaf C, while leaf N was higher than stem and root N. Phosphorus concentration and N/P did not differ among plant organs. Significant differences were found between root C/N and leaf C/N as well as between root C/P and leaf C/P. Leaf nutrient traits respond to geographic and climatic factors, while nutrient concentrations of stems and roots are mostly affected by soil P and pH. We show that stoichiometric patterns in different plant organs had different responses to environmental variables. Studies of species-specific nutrient stoichiometry can help clarify plant-environment relationships and nutrient cycling patterns in desert ecosystems.
Project description:Personality is often defined as the behaviour of individual animals that is consistent across contexts and over time. Personality traits may become unstable during stages of ontogeny from infancy to adulthood, especially during major periods of development such as around the time of sexual maturation. The personality of domesticated farm animals has links with productivity, health and welfare, but to our knowledge, no studies have investigated the development and stability of personality traits across developmental life stages in a mammalian farm animal species. Here, we describe the consistency of personality traits across ontogeny in dairy cattle from neonate to first lactation as an adult. The personality traits 'bold' and 'exploratory', as measured by behavioural responses to novelty, were highly consistent during the earlier (before and after weaning from milk) and later (after puberty to first lactation) rearing periods, but were not consistent across these rearing periods when puberty occurred. These findings indicate that personality changes in cattle around sexual maturation are probably owing to major physiological changes that are accelerated under typical management conditions at this time. This work contributes to the understanding of the ontogeny of behaviour in farm animals, especially how and why individuals differ in their behaviour.
Project description:Climate change is warming the oceans, increasing carbon dioxide partial pressure and reducing nutrient recycling from deep layers. This will affect carbon (C) and phosphorus (P) availability in the oceans, thus, altering the balance between the nutrient content of consumers and their food resource. The combined effects of food quality and temperature have been investigated for adult copepods; however, nauplii, the early developmental stages of copepods, often far outnumber adults, grow more rapidly and have a higher phosphorus body content and demand than later life stages. Consequently, ontogeny may affect how copepods respond to the combined stressors of increasing temperature and altered food stoichiometry. We conducted temperature-controlled experiments (24, 28 and 32 °C) where Parvocalanus crassirostris was fed either a P-replete or a P-limited phytoplankton food source. Reduced survival of nauplii and copepodites at the highest temperature was ameliorated when fed P-replete food. At higher temperatures, copepodite growth remained stable, but internal C:P stoichiometry diverged in the direction of phytoplankton C:P, suggesting that increased temperature affected copepodite stoichiometric homeostasis. In contrast, naupliar P content increased with temperature and naupliar growth was P limited, suggesting nauplii required additional phosphorus at higher temperatures. We conclude that resource stoichiometry plays a key role in how copepod survival and growth are impacted by temperature, and that ontogeny mediates these responses. Our results suggest that as the extent of warming oceans and phytoplankton nutrient limitation increase, copepod survival and the growth of early life stages may decline.
Project description:Phosphorus intake in Europe is far above recommendations. We present baseline data from three human intervention studies between 2006 and 2014 regarding intake and excretion of phosphorus and calcium. All subjects documented their nutritional habits in weighed dietary records. Fasting blood samples were drawn, and feces and urine were quantitatively collected. Dietary phosphorus intake was estimated based on weighed dietary records and urine phosphorus excretions. Food sources were identified by allocation to defined food product groups. Average phosphorus consumption was 1338 mg/day and did not change from 2006 to 2014, while calcium intake decreased during this period (1150 to 895 mg/day). The main sources for phosphorus intake were bread/cereal products, milk/milk products and meat/meat products/sausage products and the main sources of calcium intake included milk/milk products/cheese, bread/cereal products and beverages. There was no difference between estimated phosphorus intake from the weighed dietary records and urine phosphorus excretion. In conclusion, we demonstrated constant phosphorus intakes far above the recommendations and decreasing calcium intakes below the recommendations in three German collectives from 2006 to 2014. Furthermore, we could show in case of usual intakes that an estimated phosphorus intake from urine phosphorus excretion is similar to the calculated intake from weighed dietary records.
Project description:Exaggerated male traits that have evolved under sexual selection include ornaments to attract mates and weapons to deter rivals. Data from studies of many such traits in diverse kinds of organisms show that they almost universally exhibit positive allometries. Both ornaments and weapons increase disproportionately with overall body size, resulting in scaling exponents within species that are consistently >1.0 and usually in the range 1.5-2.5. We show how scaling exponents reflect the relative fitness advantages of ornaments vs. somatic growth by using a simple mathematical model of resource allocation during ontogeny. Because the scaling exponents are similar for the different taxonomic groups, it follows that the fitness advantages of investing in ornaments also are similar. The model also shows how selection for ornaments influences body size at first reproduction and explains why interspecific allometries have consistently lower exponents than intraspecific ones.
Project description:Intraspecific trait variation has large effects on the ecosystem and is greatly affected by human activities. To date, most studies focused on single-trait analyses, while considering multiple traits is expected to better predict how an individual interacts with its environment. Here, we used a mesocosm experiment with fish Oryzias latipes to test whether individual growth, boldness and functional traits (feeding rate and stoichiometric traits) formed one functional pace-of-life syndrome (POLS). We then tested the effects of among-individual mean and variance of fish functional POLSs within mesocosms on invertebrate community (e.g. zoobenthos and zooplankton abundances) and ecosystem processes (e.g. ecosystem metabolism, algae stock, nutrient concentrations). Stoichiometric traits correlated with somatic growth and behaviours, forming two independent functional POLS (i.e. two major covariance axes). Mean values of the first syndrome were sex- and environment-dependent and were associated with (i) long-term (10 generations; 4 years) selection for small or large body size resulting in contrasting life histories and (ii) short-term (6 weeks) effects of experimental treatments on resource availability (through manipulation of light intensity and interspecific competition). Specifically, females and individuals from populations selected for a small body size presented fast functional POLS with faster growth rate, higher carbon body content and lower boldness. Individuals exposed to low resources (low light and high competition) displayed a slow functional POLS. Higher mesocosm mean and variance values in the second functional POLS (i.e. high feeding rate, high carbon:nitrogen body ratio, low ammonium excretion rate) were associated to decreased prey abundances, but did not affect any of the ecosystem processes. We highlighted the presence of functional multi-trait covariation in medaka, which were affected by sex, long-term selection history and short-term environmental conditions, that ultimately had cascading ecological consequences. We stressed the need for applying this approach to better predict ecosystem response to anthropogenic global changes.
Project description:Life histories of species may be shaped by nutritional limitations posed on populations. Yet, populations contain individuals that differ according to sex and life stage, each of which having different nutritional demands and experiencing specific limitations. We studied patterns of resource assimilation, allocation and excretion during the growth of the solitary bee Osmia bicornis (two sexes) under natural conditions. Adopting an ecological perspective, we assert that organisms ingest mutable organic molecules that are transformed during physiological processes and that the immutable atoms of the chemical elements composing these molecules may be allocated to specific functions, thereby influencing organismal fitness and life history. Therefore, using the framework of ecological stoichiometry, we investigated the multielemental (C, N, S, P, K, Na, Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn, Mn, Cu) compositions of six components of the bee elemental budget: food (pollen), eggs, pupae, adults, cocoons and excreta. The sexes differed fundamentally in the assimilation and allocation of acquired atoms, elemental phenotypes, and stoichiometric niches for all six components. Phosphorus, which supports larval growth, was allocated mainly (55-75%) to the cocoon after larval development was complete. Additionally, the majority (60-99%) of the Mn, Ca, Mg and Zn acquired during larval development was allocated to the cocoon, probably influencing bee fitness by conferring protection. We conclude that for holometabolous insects, considering only the chemical composition of the adult body within the context of nutritional ecology does not provide a complete picture. Low ratios of C to other nutrients, low N:P and high Na concentrations in excreta and cocoons may be important for local-scale nutrient cycling. Limited access to specific nutritional elements may hinder bee development in a sex-dependent manner, and N and P limitations, commonly considered elsewhere, may not play important roles in O. bicornis. Sexual dimorphism in nutritional limitations due to nutrient scarcity during the larval stage may influence bee population function and should be considered in bee conservation efforts.
Project description:Discriminating between genetic and environmental causes of phenotypic variation is an essential requirement for understanding the evolutionary potential of populations. However, the extent to which genetic variation differs among conspecific groups and environments during ontogeny has rarely been investigated. In this study, the genetic basis of body mass was measured in three divergent strains of brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis) in different rearing environments and at different time periods. The results indicate that body mass was a heritable trait in all strains but that the level of heritability greatly differed among strains. Moreover, heritability estimates of each strain varied differently according to environmental rearing conditions, and cross-environments correlations were all significantly lower than unity, indicating strain-specific patterns of genotype-environment interactions. Heritability estimates also varied throughout ontogeny and decreased by 50% from 9 to 21 months of age. This study highlights the divergence in genetic architecture and evolutionary potential among these strains and emphasizes the importance of considering the strain-specific potential of the response to selection according to environmental variation.