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Water 2016, 8(1), 22; doi:10.3390/w8010022

Roles of N:P Ratios on Trophic Structures and Ecological Stream Health in Lotic Ecosystems

Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Korea
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Academic Editor: Young-Seuk Park
Received: 2 November 2015 / Revised: 23 December 2015 / Accepted: 7 January 2016 / Published: 16 January 2016
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Abstract

Little is known about the functions of N:P ratios in determining trophic structures and ecological health in lotic ecosystems, even though N:P ratios have been frequently used as a stoichiometric determinant in ambient water for trophic allocation of low-level organisms such as phytoplankton or zooplankton. In this study, nutrients (N, P) and sestonic chlorophyll (CHL) from 40 different streams in the Geum-River watershed were measured from 2008 to 2011. Fish compositions and stream health were also assessed, based on the multi-metric modeling of an index of biological integrity. Land use patterns in these watersheds were a key factor regulating nutrient contents and N:P ratios in ambient water, and also influenced empirical relationships between N:P ratios (or nutrients) and sestonic CHL. Land use patterns in forested, urban and wastewater treatment plant regions were associated with significant differences in stream N:P ratios, and the ratios were mainly determined by phosphorus. Sestonic CHL was significantly correlated with nutrient level (N, P); the ratios had a positive linear relationship with the proportion of omnivores, and a negative relationship with the proportion of insectivores. A similar trend in the N:P ratios was observed in indicator fishes such as N. koreanus and Z. platypus. Overall, the N:P ratio may be a good surrogate variable of ambient concentrations of N or P in assessing trophic linkage and diagnosing the ecological stream health in aquatic ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: N:P ratios; water chemistry; fish trophic compositions; stream ecosystem health N:P ratios; water chemistry; fish trophic compositions; stream ecosystem health
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Yun, Y.-J.; An, K.-G. Roles of N:P Ratios on Trophic Structures and Ecological Stream Health in Lotic Ecosystems. Water 2016, 8, 22.

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