Detritivory: stoichiometry of a neglected trophic level
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- Martinson, H.M., Schneider, K., Gilbert, J. et al. Ecol Res (2008) 23: 487. doi:10.1007/s11284-008-0471-7
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Previous syntheses have identified the key roles that phylogeny, body size, and trophic level play in determining arthropod stoichiometry. To date, however, detritivores have been largely omitted from such syntheses, despite their importance in nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and food web interactions. Here, we report on a compiled database of the allometry and nutritional stoichiometry (N and P) of detritivorous arthropods. Overall, both N and P content for detritivores varied among major phylogenetic lineages. Detritivore N content was similar to the N content of herbivores, but below that of predators. By contrast, detritivore P content was independent of trophic level. Contrary to previous reports, neither nutrient varied with body size. This analysis places detritivores in the context of related herbivores and predators, and as such, sets the stage for future investigations into the causes and consequences of elemental (mis)matches between detritivores and their detrital resources.