The Biology of Elements from Molecules to the Biosphere
Robert W. Sterner & James J. Elser
With a foreword by Peter Vitousek
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."
Robert W. Sterner is Professor and Head of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. James J. Elser is Professor of Biology at Arizona State University. Peter Vitousek, one of the world's leading ecosystem ecologists, is Morrison Professor of Population and Resources at Stanford University.