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We present a model framework for the simulation of growth and reproduction of Daphnia at varying conditions of food concentration and temperature. The core of our framework consists of an individual level model that simulates allocation of assimilated carbon into somatic growth, maintenance costs, and reproduction on the basis of a closed carbon budget. A fixed percentage of assimilated carbon is allocated into somatic growth and maintenance costs. Special physiological adaptations in energy acquisition and usage allow realistic model performance even at very low food concentrations close to minimal food requirements. All model parameters are based on physiological measures taken from the literature. Model outputs were thoroughly validated on data from a life-table experiment with Daphnia galeata. For the first time, a successful model validation was performed at such low food concentrations. The escalator boxcar train (EBT) was used to integrate this individual level model into a stage-structured population model. In advance to previous applications of the EBT to Daphnia we included an additional clutch compartment into the model structure that accounts for the characteristic time delay between egg deposition and hatching in cladocerans. By linking two levels of biological organisation, this model approach represents a comprehensive framework for studying Daphnia both at laboratory conditions and in the field. We compared outputs of our stage-structured model with predictions by two other models having analogous parameterisation: (i) another individual level Daphnia model (Kooijman–Metz model) and (ii) a classical unstructured population model. In contrast to our Daphnia model, the Kooijman–Metz model lacks the structure to account for the optimisation of energy acquisition and maintenance requirements by individual daphnids. The unstructured population model showed different patterns of population dynamics that were not in concordance with typical patterns observed in the field. Thus, we conclude our model provides a comprehensive tool for the simulation of growth and reproduction of Daphnia and corresponding population dynamics. [KEYWORDS: Daphnia ; Structured populations ; Energy allocation ; Individual level ; Physiology ; Resource limitation ; Growth; Reproduction]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-344
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005

ID: 286109