, Volume 136, Issue 3, pp 336–346 | Cite as

How Daphnia copes with excess carbon in its food

  • François Darchambeau
  • Per J. Faerøvig
  • Dag O. Hessen


Animals that maintain near homeostatic elemental ratios may get rid of excess ingested elements from their food in different ways. C regulation was studied in juveniles of Daphnia magna feeding on two Selenastrum capricornutum cultures contrasting in P content (400 and 80 C:P atomic ratios). Both cultures were labelled with 14C in order to measure Daphnia ingestion and assimilation rates. No significant difference in ingestion rates was observed between P-low and P-rich food, whereas the net assimilation of 14C was higher in the treatment with P-rich algae. Some Daphnia were also homogeneously labelled over 5 days on radioactive algae to estimate respiration rates and excretion rates of dissolved organic C (DOC). The respiration rate for Daphnia fed with high C:P algae (38.7% of body C day-1) was significantly higher than for those feeding on low C:P algae (25.3% of body C day-1). The DOC excretion rate was also higher when animals were fed on P-low algae (13.4% of body C day-1) than on P-rich algae (5.7% of body C day-1) . When corrected for respiratory losses, total assimilation of C did not differ significantly between treatments (around 60% of body C day-1). Judging from these experiments, D. magna can maintain its stoichiometric balance when feeding on unbalanced diets (high C:P) primarily by disposing of excess dietary C via respiration and excretion of DOC.


Assimilation Carbon:phosphorus ratios Dissolved organic carbon excretion Homeostasis Respiration 



The authors would like to thank Prof. J. Henrard for his help in resolving the equation systems. We are grateful to S. Diehl for his helpful suggestions and improvements to an earlier draft of the manuscript. F. D. was supported by an exchange Linkecol grant provided by the European Science Foundation, which funded travel and accommodation for the duration of the experiments at the University of Oslo.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Darchambeau
    • 1
  • Per J. Faerøvig
    • 2
  • Dag O. Hessen
    • 2
  1. 1.URBO—Laboratory of Freshwater EcologyFacultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix NamurBelgium
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Oslo OsloNorway

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