Complete compensation in Daphnia fecundity and stage-specific biomass in response to size-independent mortality.

Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Journal of Animal Ecology (Impact Factor: 4.73). 03/2010; 79(4):871-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2010.01679.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 1. Recent theory suggests that compensation or even overcompensation in stage-specific biomass can arise in response to increased mortality. Which stage that will show compensation depends on whether maturation or reproduction is the more limiting process in the population. Size-structured theory also provides a strong link between the type of regulation and the expected population dynamics as both depend on size/stage-specific competitive ability. 2. We imposed a size-independent mortality on a consumer-resource system with Daphnia pulex feeding on Scenedesmus obtusiusculus to asses the compensatory responses in Daphnia populations. We also extended an existing stage-structured biomass model by including several juvenile stages to test whether this extension affected the qualitative results of the existing model. 3. We found complete compensation in juvenile biomass and total population fecundity in response to harvesting. The compensation in fecundity was caused by both a higher proportion of fecund females and a larger clutch size under increased mortality. We did not detect any difference in resource levels between treatments. 4. The model results showed that both stages of juveniles have to be superior to adults in terms of resource competition for the compensatory response to take place in juvenile biomass. 5. The results are all in correspondence with that the regulating process within the population was reproduction. From this, we also conclude that juveniles were superior competitors to adults, which has implications for population dynamics and the kind of cohort cycles seen in Daphnia populations. 6. The compensatory responses demonstrated in this experiment have major implications for community dynamics and are potentially present in any organisms with food-dependent growth or development.

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