1. Growth and reproduction of Daphnia fed lake seston were measured in two categories of meso- to eutrophic lakes differing with respect to terrestrial organic matter influence (humic and clear water lakes). The content of highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA), P and N, as well as the taxonomical composition of seston were analysed.2. Seston HUFA and C : P ratios were similar between lake categories, whereas C : N ratios were lower in the clear water lakes in both spring and summer. Despite the similarity in HUFA and P content of seston, Daphnia growth rate, clutch size and the proportion of gravid females were, respectively, about 1.5, 3 and 6 times higher in the clear water lakes.3. Differences in growth and reproduction were related to a combination of higher N content and good fatty acid quality of the seston in the clear water lakes. Relatively high biomass of edible algae, such as Rhodomonas sp. and Cryptomonas sp., in the clear water lakes, and differences in water pH likely contributed to the observed differences in Daphnia growth and reproduction between lake categories. Additionally, it is possible that Daphnia was energy limited in the humic lakes despite high particulate organic carbon (POC) concentrations, as the contribution of non-algal and detrital C to the POC pool was high.4. Our results suggest that dietary HUFA content has the potential to improve herbivore growth and reproduction if N and P are not limiting. N merits more attention in studies of zooplankton nutrition.
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