Ecological Stoichiometry and Stream Ecosystems
Ecological stoichiometry considers the balance of key elements and energy in ecological interactions. This body of ideas has a long history in ecology but has seen increasing application only in the last two decades. The relatively recent refinement of the ecological stoichiometric perspective has been applied primarily to pelagic habitats, with application to terrestrial and benthic ecosystems still in its relative infancy.
Along with colleagues (especially Dr. Wyatt Cross at Montana State University and Dr. Amy Rosemond at the University of Georgia), I have become increasingly interested in applying stoichiometric perspectives to research questions spanning many different scales in ecology, from the growth of consumers, to the control of energy flow and the cycling of nutrients through whole ecosystems.
To date, this research has included studies on the effects of added nutrients (N and P) on detritus and detritivores at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, a detailed analysis of phosphorus limitation of growth in diverse aquatic taxa, work on nutrient excretion by freshwater shrimps in tropical streams, and an examination of nutrient limitation of detritivorous invertebrates. Much more work in ecological stoichiometry is planned for the future. We are particularly excited about our project based at Coweeta, which is examining the responses of detritus-based food webs to variation in the concentrations and ratios of nitrogen and phosphorus.