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Changes in the ecological stoichiometry of primary producers may have considerable implications for energy and matter transfer in food webs. We hypothesized that nutrient enrichment shifts the trophic position of omnivores towards herbivory, as the nutritional quality of primary producers increases. This hypothesis was tested by analyzing the ecological stoichiometry and stable isotope signature of primary producers and a wide range of aquatic macroinvertebrates, including primary consumers (herbivores) and secondary consumers (both potential omnivores and strict carnivores), along a eutrophication gradient in an agricultural landscape. Our results showed (1) that carbon : nutrient ratios of primary producers decreased along the eutrophication gradient, while the elemental composition of consumers remained homeostatic, and (2) that the trophic position of several omnivores and the generalist predator Notonecta decreased, while the trophic position of most other consumers remained constant. These findings suggest that shifts in the diets of aquatic invertebrates induced by increasing eutrophication may affect species interactions and food web structure in aquatic ecosystems. © 2020 The Authors. Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Ecological Society of America.


Gea H van der Lee, J Arie Vonk, Ralf C M Verdonschot, Michiel H S Kraak, Piet F M Verdonschot, Jef Huisman. Eutrophication induces shifts in the trophic position of invertebrates in aquatic food webs. Ecology. 2021 Mar;102(3):e03275

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PMID: 33351184

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