The utilization of bacterial phosphorus in zooplankton metabolism was investigated using radio-phosphorus labelled natural bacteria as food source for zooplankton in feeding experiments. Incorporation of labelled bacteria was clearly related to the species' ability to graze on bacteria, with the cladoceran Daphnia reaching the highest biomass-specific activity and the copepod A canthodiaptomus the lowest. Within Daphnia, juveniles had a higher biomass-specific uptake of phosphorus than adults. This was presumably caused by higher growth rates of the juveniles rather than age-specific differences in the ability to feed on bacteria, supported by the observation that the juveniles had the highest specific P-content. Retention of ingested 32P from labelled particles exceeded 80%, indicating higher assimilation efficiencies on phosphorus compared with carbon. In the investigated humic lake, approximately 75% of the phosphorus in grazable particles was bound in bacterial cells, making bacteria the most important source of P to the bacterivore zooplankton species.
- nutrient limitation