Research Topic

Progress in Ecological Stoichiometry

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Ecological stoichiometry concerns the way that the elemental composition of organisms shapes their ecology. It deals with balance and imbalanced elemental ratios and how that affects organism growth, nutrient cycling, and the interactions with the biotic and abiotic worlds. It has been over a decade since ...

Ecological stoichiometry concerns the way that the elemental composition of organisms shapes their ecology. It deals with balance and imbalanced elemental ratios and how that affects organism growth, nutrient cycling, and the interactions with the biotic and abiotic worlds. It has been over a decade since the publication of Sterner and Elser's book, Ecological Stoichiometry. In the intervening years, hundreds of papers on stoichiometric topics ranging from evolution and regulation of nutrient content in organisms, the role of stoichiometry in populations, communities, ecosystems and global biogeochemical dynamics have been published. Rather than having one or a few authors attempt to revise and update Ecological Stoichiometry, we encourage contributions from the broad community that will highlight recent insights in the field.

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 reduced compounds from the environment proportional to their needs. And their needs are determined in turn by the energy required to live and grow, the physical and chemical constraints of their environment, and their needs for relatively large polymeric biomolecules such as RNA, DNA, lipids, and proteins that constitute most of their biomass. Although there may be little variability in stoichiometric ratios of many of these biomolecules, changing the proportions of different biomolecules can have important effects on organismal elemental composition. Furthermore, recent work has demonstrated tremendous variability in organism elemental biomass composition with important implications for Earth’s biogeochemical cycles.

This Research Topic will bring the field of Ecological Stoichiometry up to date. Contributions on the following are welcome: the stoichiometry of all organisms, from microbes to elephants, at sub-cellular, individual, population, community and ecosystem spatial scales and evolutionary time scales. Any habitat, terrestrial, freshwater or marine, is considered relevant to the goal of asking what is the state of Ecological Stoichiometry at the present time. It is important to understand controls on stoichiometry at multiple organizational, spatial and temporal scales. We welcome studies using new tools, whether they utilize novel field, culture, sequencing, theory, and/or modeling approaches to address these questions with the goal of achieving a new synthesis regarding ecological stoichiometry across all types of systems and organization.


Keywords: stoichiometry, biomass, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, homeostasis, community composition, nutrient cycling, evolution


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