The stoichiometry of larval anuran development in natural wetlands


Understanding the influence of growth and development on the stoichiometry of organisms with complex lifecycles is necessary to understand the spatial and temporal extent of consumer-driven nutrient dynamics. This can be particularly challenging in temporally variable habitats, such as geographically isolated wetlands (GIW), which dry down seasonally. Larval anurans (tadpoles) are excellent model organisms for studies within the framework of ecological stoichiometry because they undergo major anatomical changes during metamorphosis that likely require a shift in body stoichiometric demands. To examine stoichiometry of larval anurans in GIWs, we measured larval Lithobates sphenocephalus tissue carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca) content, excretion NH4-N, TDN and TDP, and egestion C, N and P across three developmental stage categories (no limbs, hind limbs only, and four limbs). We found that tissue P content increased significantly during later stages when bone development was occurring, which significantly reduced tissue C:P and N:P. Tissue C also increased across stages. Mass-specific excretion of TDN and N:P decreased across stages. Per capita NH4-N excretion rate had a positive relationship with body size, and per capita excretion N:P had a negative relationship with body size. Mass specific bulk egestion and C egestion varied across stages, as well as C:N and C:P, but we could not distinguish which stages were different from one another. Per capita egestion rates of N and P were positively correlated with body size, and both C:N and C:P were negatively related to body size. We found that development stage of larval anurans was an important indicator of tissue, excretion, and egestion stoichiometry and these differences may influence their functional role in aquatic ecosystems throughout their development.

Stoichiometry, anuran, ontogeny, excretion, egestion, consumer, nutrient cycling, GEOGRAPHICALLY ISOLATED WETLANDS, ONTOGENIC DIET SHIFTS, ECOLOGICAL STOICHIOMETRY, NUTRIENT DYNAMICS, WATER-QUALITY, GROWTH-RATES, FOOD WEBS, TERRESTRIAL, SIZE, PHOSPHORUS, Ecology, Limnology, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Marine & Freshwater Biology
McLeay, S., Smith, L., Atkinson, C. (2019): The Stoichiometry of Larval Anuran Development in Natural Wetlands. Journal of Freshwater Ecology. 34(1).