Stoichiometric analysis recognizes that a herbivore is a mixture of multiple chemical elements, especially C, N, and P, that are fixed in various proportions. In the face of a variable quality food supply, herbivores must regulate ingested nutrients to maintain a homeostatic state. We develop a dynamic mathematical model, based on differential assimilation, that controls the C:N and C:P ratios in a herbivore within given tolerance ranges; the actual mathematical mechanism is to define the absorption coefficients to be dependent on these elemental ratios. The model inputs variable, time-dependent food and grazing rates and calculates the net dynamic consumer production (growth) of C, N, and P. It shows that total growth is equally sensitive to variations in both food quality and in assimilation rates, and it shows quantitatively how C-, N-, or P-limited growth could occur at different periods during the development period. The analysis generalizes earlier work limited to just two elements. © 2003 Society for Mathematical Biology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research
Choose a citation style from the tabs below