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Recent theoretical work (Vos et al. 2004) predicts that inducible defences prevent strong population fluctuations under high levels of nutrient enrichment. Here we evaluate this model prediction and show that inducible defences in algae stabilize the dynamics of experimentally assembled bi- and tritrophic planktonic food chains. At high phosphorus levels, we observed strong population fluctuations in all food chains with undefended algae. These fluctuations did not occur when algae had inducible defences. At low phosphorus levels, we observed deterministic consumer extinctions, as predicted by stoichiometric theory. Our study thus shows that both biotically and abiotically induced changes in algal food quality affect the stability and persistence of planktonic food chains. [KEYWORDS: Coexistence ; extinctions ; food quality ; induced defences ; paradox of energy enrichment ; paradox of enrichment ; population cycles ; predatorprey ; interactions ; stoichiometry]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1148
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2004

ID: 366848