Zooplankton-mediated transitions between N- and P-limited algal growth

James Elser, M. M. Elser, N. A. Mackay, S. R. Carpenter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

238 Scopus citations


Limitation of algal growth by N and P was assessed in 3 north temperate lakes with physiological bioassays and nutrient enrichment experiments. In situ indicators of N and P availability were inversely related to magnitude and transitions between N and P limitation were abrupt. Physiological bioassay results did not indicate simultaneous limitation by N and P, but limited responses to single-nutrient enrichment and pronounced responses to simultaneous N and P addition in enrichment experiments suggested that potential limitation by the secondary nutrient was usually in close proximity to limitation by the primary nutrient. Transitions between N and P limitation closely accompanied major shifts in the zooplankton community. The importance of the zooplankton community in regulating the relative degree of N or P limitation was confirmed by mesocosm experiments, which demonstrated that transitions between algal N or P limitation could be induced by manipulations of zooplankton biomass or size. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLimnology & Oceanography
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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