Dynamics of a Producer–Grazer Model Incorporating the Effects of Phosphorus Loading on Grazer’s Growth

Lale Asik, Angela Peace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Phosphorus is an essential element for all life forms, and it is also a limiting nutrient in many aquatic ecosystems. To keep track of the mismatch between the grazer’s phosphorus requirement and producer phosphorus content, stoichiometric models have been developed to explicitly incorporate food quality and food quantity. Most stoichiometric models have suggested that the grazer dynamics heavily depends on the producer phosphorus content when the producer has insufficient nutrient content [low phosphorus (P):carbon (C) ratio]. However, recent laboratory experiments have shown that the grazer dynamics are also affected by excess producer nutrient content (extremely high P:C ratio). This phenomenon is known as the “stoichiometric knife edge.” While the Peace et al. (Bull Math Biol 76(9):2175–2197, 2014) model has captured this phenomenon, it does not explicitly track P loading of the aquatic environment. Here, we extend the Peace et al. (2014) model by mechanistically deriving and tracking P loading in order to investigate the growth response of the grazer to the producer of varying P:C ratios. We analyze the dynamics of the system such as boundedness and positivity of the solutions, existence and stability conditions of boundary equilibria. Bifurcation diagram and simulations show that our model behaves qualitatively similar to the Peace et al. (2014) model. The model shows that the fate of the grazer population can be very sensitive to P loading. Furthermore, the structure of our model can easily be extended to incorporate seasonal P loading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1352-1368
Number of pages17
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 15 2019


  • Ecological stoichiometry
  • Phosphorus
  • Predator–prey model
  • Stoichiometric knife edge


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