James Elser, Bierman Professor of Ecology & Director, Flathead Lake Biological Station of the University of Montana, Research Professor, School of Life Sciences & School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Hosted by: Nick Bouskill
About the Speaker
Dr. Elser’s research involves the integrative field of biological stoichiometry, the study of balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in living systems. While this work is primarily ecological in focus and includes studies of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and biota, the approach uses an evolutionary perspective to integrate levels of organization from the molecule and cell to the ecosystem. Specific studies involve observational and experimental studies at various scales, including laboratory cultures, short-term field experiments and sustained whole-ecosystem manipulations. Over the years, field sites have included the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario, Canada; lakes of the Arctic; lakes, forests, and grasslands of the upper Midwest; desert springs in Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert; and the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
Biological stoichiometry is the study of the balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in living systems. This talk will introduce some of the basic principles of stoichiometric theory and apply them to understanding the occurrence and impact of nutrient limitation in ecological and evolutionary settings using examples from both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Finally, the talk will deal with how nutrient limitation might itself shape the long-term sustainability of human society, focusing on issues related to phosphorus and its role in agriculture and water quality.