All life is chemical. That fact underpins the developing field of ecological stoichiometry, the study of the balance of chemical elements in ecological interactions. This long-awaited book brings this field into its own as a unifying force in ecology and evolution. Synthesizing a wide range of knowledge, Robert Sterner and Jim Elser show how an understanding of the biochemical deployment of elements in organisms from microbes to metazoa provides the key to making sense of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
After summarizing the chemistry of elements and their relative abundance in Earth's environment, the authors proceed along a line of increasing complexity and scale from molecules to cells, individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems. The book examines fundamental chemical constraints on ecological phenomena such as competition, herbivory, symbiosis, energy flow in food webs, and organic matter sequestration. In accessible prose and with clear mathematical models, the authors show how ecological stoichiometry can illuminate diverse fields of study, from metabolism to global change.
Set to be a classic in the field, Ecological Stoichiometry is an indispensable resource for researchers, instructors, and students of ecology, evolution, physiology, and biogeochemistry.
From the foreword by Peter Vitousek:
"[T]his book represents a significant milestone in the history of ecology. . . . Love it or argue with it--and I do both--most ecologists will be influenced by the framework developed in this book. . . . There are points to question here, and many more to test . . . And if we are both lucky and good, this questioning and testing will advance our field beyond the level achieved in this book. I can't wait to get on with it."
"Few, if any, details of stoichiometry seem to have been overlooked by Sterner and Elser, and their book will be a useful reference to me for many years to come. . . . The hundreds of references in the bibliography are worth the price of the book alone."--David W. Schindler, Nature
"Robert Sterner and James Elser take a giant stride in knitting together perspectives across scales, biomes, and disciplines to craft an integrative and predictive vision of the topic. . . . It knits together such a broad range of relevant topics that anyone interested in the connections between biology and elemental cycles should give it a try."--Anthony F. Michaels, Science
"I believe that his is one of the most important books written in ecology in the last 10 years. . . . I predict that in a few years it will be inconceivable to ignore the stoichiometric perspective when tackling an ecological problem. . . . Ecological Stoichiometry is well written in colloquial and friendly prose. The authors strived to explain their arguments clearly and in detail. The many mathematical models are explained with laudable lucidity and the figures that illustrate them are consistently good."--Carlos Martinez Del Rio, Ecology
"How often do you read a book that has a large number of 'aha!' moments in every chapter? This is a significant piece of synthesis and scholarship that brings together a very large number of disciplines and disparate chunks of data into a very satisfying whole. . . . Never before have I seen a book which spans the scales from molecular biology to ecosystems so effectively. . . . It is sure to become a classic."--Graham Harris, Journal of Plankton Research
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Peter M. Vitousek: