Pollen Stoichiometry May Influence Detrital Terrestrial and Aquatic Food Webs

Michał Filipiak
  • Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, December 2016, Frontiers Media SA
  • DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00138

Pollen’s role in nutrients cycling

What is it about?

Data presented in this work is a prerequisite for understanding underrated pollen’s role in nutrients cycling in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, indicating nutritional constraints experienced by detritivores and providing a first hint of pollen consuming as potential solution used to overcome such constraints. Active feeding on pollen may be common adaptive strategy used to compensate for the lack of nutrients in other available sources of biomass making the pollen important player in the flow of nutrients in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Why is it important?

1. It links the nutrition of various organisms (fungi, protozoans, worms, insects, mites, millipedes, isopods and slugs) with ecosystem functioning. It indicates that high amounts of nutritive and digestible pollen deposited to both land and aquatic ecosystems during periods of pollen rain may strongly affect the functioning of the food webs. Active feeding on pollen mitigate to the high degree stoichiometric mismatches experienced by detritivores, especially concerning P, K, N and S – the elements limiting for the detritivores’ development because of their scarcity in decomposing dead plant matter. In case of aquatic food web fungal action seems to be especially important for introducing pollen-derived nutrients to the food-web and pollen is stoichiometrically well-balanced nourishment for fungi. Stoichiometry of pollen and fungi was discussed considering other studies presenting the role of fungi in introducing pollen-derived nutrients to the aquatic food-webs. 2. A multi-element approach was used in the trophic-link studies: in addition to the more commonly investigated C, N and P, considered were other physiologically important elements. From these K, S, Zn, Fe and Cu seems to be the most important ones (limiting because of their general scarcity in plant matter but provided in advantageous proportions by stoichiometrically well-balanced pollen). 3. Compilation of available knowledge on multielemental composition and stoichiometry of pollen, litter and detritivores (fungi, protozoans, worms, insects, mites, millipedes, isopods and slugs) were presented with addition of the new data, considering concentrations of 10 physiologically important elements (C, N, P, S, K, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu) and stoichiometry of 9 groups of detritivores (fungi, isopods, millipedes, potworms, earthworms, slugs, springtails, scarab beetles and ants).

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Michał Filipiak