About this Research Topic
Energy is continuously transformed in the environment through the metabolic activities of organisms. These transformations of energy, i.e. bioenergetics, underpin most biogeochemical cycles on Earth and allow the delivery of a wide range of life-supporting ecosystem services.
It has long been understood that the amount and types of energy available in an environment influence the rates of biological activity and the complexity of interactions in that system. Theoretical ecological frameworks have suggested that the more complex ecosystems become in terms of their food webs, the more efficient they are i.e. relatively less energy is wasted when utilizing resources. Traditionally, energy fluxes and stocks have not been described in a quantitative manner. However, in recent years, scientists in a number of fields have increasingly shown interest in quantifying how bioenergetics define ecosystems. For example, calorimetry is being used to provide empirical data for mechanistic models of carbon turnover in soils, work that is relevant to climate change. Similarly, this approach is being extended to make progress on sustainable land-use management issues such as studying the degradation of organic matter in oxygen-limited rice paddy systems. Furthermore, geochemists have quantified the amount of chemolithotrophic energy available for microorganisms in a number of extreme environments to infer the dominant metabolic activities in environments. These processes are challenging to monitor due to their inaccessibility and incredibly slow rates of energy processing. Although these efforts represent significant progress in the field of biogeochemistry, bioenergetics analyses of natural systems are still in their infancy. Nonetheless, there is increasing interest in using bioenergetics tools to better characterize biogeochemical cycling in water, soils and sediments in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.
The aim of this Research Topic is to gather contributions from scientists working in diverse disciplines who have a common interest in evaluating bioenergetics at various spatial and temporal scales in a variety of different environments. The spatial scales range from the process and organismal level up to ecosystems, the temporal scales range from the near-instantaneous to the millennial, and the scientific disciplines involved include: soil scientists, biogeochemists, organic geochemists, microbial and ecosystem ecologists etc. Articles can be original research, techniques, reviews or synthesis papers. We encourage manuscripts focusing on interdisciplinary interactions addressing both basic and applied research as well as associated theoretical work. The overarching goal of this Research Topic is to demonstrate the environmental breadth of bioenergetics, and foster understanding between different scientific communities who may not always be aware of one another’s work.
• Bioenergetics at the process and organism levels
• Bioenergetics in terrestrial ecosystems
• Bioenergetics in freshwater and marine environments
• Technical developments in environmental bioenergetics
Keywords: Energy, Thermodynamics, Calorimetry, Soil, Sediment
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.