Reduced light increases herbivore production due to stoichiometric effects of light/nutrient balance

J. Urabe*, M. Kyle, W. Makino, T. Yoshida, T. Andersen, J. J. Elser

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    140 Citations (Scopus)


    Ecological common sense says that decreased solar energy should reduce herbivore production because of reduced energy flow through primary producers. However, a field experiment in a Phosphorus-limited lake showed that production of zooplankton herbivores was increased by shading. This paradoxical outcome was caused by a decoupling of producer carbon fixation and nutrient uptake under high light that reduced food quality for herbivores. At low nutrient supplies, shading increased nutrient contents relative to carbon within algal food, outweighing effects of decreased primary production. Thus, light/nutrient balance affects the degree of mismatch between primary producers and herbivores in nature, which in turn influences mass-transfer efficiencies along food chains. To predict how energy transfer efficiency and biological interactions will respond to perturbations, it is essential to take into account changes in light/nutrient balance and its effects on the stoichiometry of autotroph-herbivore interactions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)619-627
    Number of pages9
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2002


    • C:P ratio
    • Daphnia
    • Energy transfer efficiency
    • Food quality
    • Herbivores
    • Light and nutrient balance
    • Stoichiometry
    • Zooplankton


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