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Effects of pesticide exposure and predation risk on nutrient cycling and primary production

  • Van Dievel, Marie; 94454;
  • Janssens, Lizanne; 59670;
  • Stoks, Robby; 34380;
Publication Date
Feb 25, 2020
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Understanding how pesticides and natural stressors shape ecosystem functions remains a major challenge. A largely overlooked way how stressors may affect nutrient cycling and primary production is through effects on body stoichiometry and the egestion of elements. We investigated how exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos and to predation risk, an abundant natural stressor in aquatic systems, altered the stoichiometry of the bodies and the egested faecal pellets of Enallagma cyathigerum damselfly larvae and how this further cascaded into effects on primary production (algae growth). Chlorpyrifos exposure reduced egestion rates while predation risk had no effect. Chlorpyrifos exposure and predation risk affected both elemental composition of bodies and faecal pellets, and this in an additive way. Chlorpyrifos exposure increased body C(carbon), N(nitrogen), and P(phosphorous) contents, and increased the C content of the faecal pellets. Predation risk induced an increase of the N content, resulting in a decreased C:N ratio, of both the bodies and faecal pellets. The changes in the composition of the faecal pellets caused by predation risk but not by chlorpyrifos exposure increased algae growth under control conditions. This indicated that algae growth was N limited. Our results provide an important proof-of-principle how a stressor may shape nutrient cycling and subsequently primary productivity. / status: published

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