The Baltic Sea is a very suitable site for stoichiometric studies, since its subbasins differ in their concentration of elemental components, and primary production can therefore be either nitrogen or phosphorus limited. To reveal if the nutrient limitation of mesozooplankton mirrors that of the primary producers, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus content of both seston and grazers (Acartia sp., Centropages hamatus, Daphnia cristata, Eurytemora affinis, Limnocalanus macrurus, Temora longicornis) were measured in midsummer in the Baltic proper, the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia. The mineral ratios of the different taxa were equal, apart from L. macrurus with notably higher C:P and N:P ratios. Molar C:N ratios were relatively stable (5.1-6.3), whereas C:P and N:P ratios fluctuated more (41-144 and 6.6-24). However, zooplankton elemental composition and limitation did not depend on the limiting nutrient of the phytoplankton, the seston mineral ratio or the sea area. Both the seston-zooplankton elemental imbalance and the food threshold ratio indicated phosphorus limitation of most of the grazers. While L. macrurus may be C or N limited, the possible P deficiency of the other studied taxa suggests that the Baltic Sea zooplankton may act as a potential phosphorus sink, as the freshwater secondary producers do.
|Journal||Marine Biology (Berlin)|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|