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Progress in Ecological Stoichiometry

Author: James J. Elser, James B. Cotner, Dedmer B. Van de Waal, Robert W. Sterner, Adam C. Martiny
Source: Directory of Open Access Books
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
ISBN: 9782889456215
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Ecological stoichiometry concerns the way that the elemental composition of organisms shapes their ecology. It deals with the balance or imbalance of elemental ratios and how that affects organism growth, nutrient cycling, and the interactions with the biotic and abiotic worlds. The elemental composition of organisms is a set of constraints through which all the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles must pass. All organisms consume nutrients and acquire compounds from the environment proportional to their needs. Organismal elemental needs are determined in turn by the energy required to live and grow, the physical and chemical constraints of their environment, and their requirements for relatively large polymeric biomolecules such as RNA, DNA, lipids, and proteins, as well as for structural needs including stems, bones, shells, etc. These materials together constitute most of the biomass of living organisms. Although there may be little variability in elemental ratios of many of these biomolecules, changing the proportions of different biomolecules can have important effects on organismal elemental composition. Consequently, the variation in elemental composition both within and across organisms can be tremendous, which has important implications for Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. It has been over a decade since the publication of Sterner and Elser’s book, Ecological Stoichiometry (2002). In the intervening years, hundreds of papers on stoichiometric topics ranging from evolution and regulation of nutrient content in organisms, to the role of stoichiometry in populations, communities, ecosystems and global biogeochemical dynamics have been published. Here, we present a collection of contributions from the broad scientific community to highlight recent insights in the field of Ecological Stoichiometry.