Ecological Stoichiometry: Overview

R. W. Sterner, James Elser

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ecological stoichiometry is the study of the balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in ecological interactions. Organisms exhibit considerable variation in their chemical composition but this variation occurs within important biological limits set by the chemical composition of the major biological molecules used by living things. Organisms differ in the degree to which they homeostatically regulate their chemical composition. Photoautotrophic organisms (cyanobacteria, algae, vascular plants) appear to be plastic in adjusting their elemental composition according to growth conditions while animals more tightly regulate their chemical composition around species- or stage-specific values. This contrast in stoichiometric homeostasis imposes important stoichiometric constraints on food webs due to food-quality constraints and results in large-scale feedbacks via differential nutrient recycling by consumers. Recent work has identified determinants of variation in stoichiometric constraints in ecosystems due to variations in light:nutrient ratios and in the C:N:P ratios of diverse biota due to differences in patterns of allocation to P-rich RNA associated with variation in growth rate. Thus, ecological stoichiometry connects evolutionary patterns affecting organismal elemental composition to large-scale consequences and constraints associated with energy and material flows in ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Pages1101-1116
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780080914565
ISBN (Print)9780080454054
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

Fingerprint

stoichiometry
Ecosystem
chemical composition
Food
Biota
Food Quality
Food Chain
Cyanobacteria
Growth
algae
Plastics
Blood Vessels
organisms
Homeostasis
RNA
Light
chemical elements
balance studies
ecosystems
nutrient

Keywords

  • Detritus
  • Element
  • Growth
  • Herbivore
  • Homeostasis
  • Life history
  • Light
  • Limitation
  • Nutrient
  • Plankton
  • Recycling
  • RNA
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Sterner, R. W., & Elser, J. (2008). Ecological Stoichiometry: Overview. In Encyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set (pp. 1101-1116). Elsevier Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-008045405-4.00309-8

Ecological Stoichiometry : Overview. / Sterner, R. W.; Elser, James.

Encyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set. Elsevier Inc., 2008. p. 1101-1116.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Sterner, RW & Elser, J 2008, Ecological Stoichiometry: Overview. in Encyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set. Elsevier Inc., pp. 1101-1116. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-008045405-4.00309-8
Sterner RW, Elser J. Ecological Stoichiometry: Overview. In Encyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set. Elsevier Inc. 2008. p. 1101-1116 https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-008045405-4.00309-8
Sterner, R. W. ; Elser, James. / Ecological Stoichiometry : Overview. Encyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set. Elsevier Inc., 2008. pp. 1101-1116
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