Intraspecific variability modulates interspecific variability in animal organismal stoichiometry
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.981
Interspecific differences in organismal stoichiometry (OS) have been documented in a wide range of animal taxa and are of significant interest for understanding evolutionary patterns in OS. In contrast, intraspecific variation in animal OS has generally been treated as analytical noise or random variation, even though available data suggest intraspecific variability in OS is widespread. Here, we assess how intraspecific variation in OS affects inferences about interspecific OS differences using two co-occurring Neotropical fishes: Poecilia reticulata and Rivulus hartii. A wide range of OS has been observed within both species and has been attributed to environmental differences among stream systems. We assess the contributions of species identity, stream system, and the interactions between stream and species to variability in N:P, C:P, and C:N. Because predation pressure can impact the foraging ecology and life-history traits of fishes, we compare predictors of OS between communities that include predators, and communities where predators are absent. We find that species identity is the strongest predictor of N:P, while stream or the interaction of stream and species contribute more to the overall variation in C:P and C:N. Interspecific differences in N:P, C:P, and C:N are therefore not consistent among streams. The relative contribution of stream or species to OS qualitatively changes between the two predation communities, but these differences do not have appreciable effects in interspecific patterns. We conclude that although species identity is a significant predictor of OS, intraspecific OS is sometimes sufficient to overwhelm or obfuscate interspecific differences in OS.