Evol Ecol Res 16: 705-723 (2014)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Biomass versus biodiversity:
the relative contribution of population attributes
to consumer nutrient loading in aquatic systems

Quenton M. Tuckett1, Kevin S. Simon2, Jasmine E. Saros1, Stephen M. Coghlan, Jr.3 and Michael T. Kinnison1

1School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA,  2School of Environment, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand and  3Department of Wildlife Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA

Correspondence: Q.M. Tuckett, Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, University of Florida, Ruskin, FL 33570, USA.
e-mail: qtuckett@ufl.edu


Background: Fish populations vary with respect to total biomass and a suite of diversity attributes such as size structure, growth trajectories, and body elemental composition. According to metabolic and ecological stoichiometry theory, variation in these parameters is of ecological concern because they influence excretion of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). However, some researchers have suggested that only biomass really matters to nutrient dynamics.

Goal: Investigate the relative contributions of biodiversity parameters (size, growth, and body elemental content) and total fish biomass to population N, P, and N:P excretion.

Methods: Bioenergetics modelling using N and P mass–balance accounting to examine the relative effects of variation in fish population biomass, size structure, growth trajectories, and elemental allometry (N and P content) on overall excretion rates and ratios.

Results: Total biomass did predict overall excretion linearly. And excretion was most sensitive to it. But population size structure and body composition both had significant effects on excretion. They also influenced the N:P release ratio. Changes in fish population size structure had effects on N and P excretion ranging from 10% to 100% of proportional changes in biomass. Changes in N and P excretion due to fish body composition ranged from 10% to 30% of proportional changes in biomass, respectively.

Keywords: bioenergetics, biomass, ecological stoichiometry, harvest, nutrient excretion.

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