Phytoplankton growth and stoichiometric responses to warming, nutrient addition and grazing depend on lake productivity and cell size

Marika A. Schulhof (Corresponding author), Jonathan B. Shurin, Steven A.J. Declerck, Dedmer B. Van de Waal

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
132 Downloads (Pure)


Abstract Global change involves shifts in multiple environmental factors that act in concert to shape ecological systems in ways that depend on local biotic and abiotic conditions. Little is known about the effects of combined global change stressors on phytoplankton communities, and particularly how these are mediated by distinct community properties such as productivity, grazing pressure and size distribution. Here, we tested for the effects of warming and eutrophication on phytoplankton net growth rate and C:N:P stoichiometry in two phytoplankton cell size fractions (30?m) in the presence and absence of grazing in microcosm experiments. Because effects may also depend on lake productivity, we used phytoplankton communities from three Dutch lakes spanning a trophic gradient. We measured the response of each community to multifactorial combinations of temperature, nutrient, and grazing treatments and found that nutrients elevated net growth rates and reduced carbon:nutrient ratios of all three phytoplankton communities. Warming effects on growth and stoichiometry depended on nutrient supply and lake productivity, with enhanced growth in the most productive community dominated by cyanobacteria, and strongest stoichiometric responses in the most oligotrophic community at ambient nutrient levels. Grazing effects were also most evident in the most oligotrophic community, with reduced net growth rates and phytoplankton C:P stoichiometry that suggests consumer-driven nutrient recycling. Our experiments indicate that stoichiometric responses to warming and interactions with nutrient addition and grazing are not universal but depend on lake productivity and cell size distribution. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2751-2762
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Early online date20 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • international
  • ecological stoichiometry
  • communities
  • warming
  • grazing
  • eutrophication
  • productivity
  • multiple stressors
  • phytoplankton


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