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Thirty years of Ecological Stoichiometry: recent conceptual changes and research perspectives

Abstract : Ecological stoichiometry (ES) is a unifying conceptual framework that focuses on how proportions of elements affect organisms and ecosystems. At the beginning, ES mainly relied on three central assumptions: 1) each species - or population of a species – exhibit a singular elemental composition (e.g. C:N:P ratio), 2) metazoans are able to maintain a relatively strict elemental homeostasis and 3) chemical elements are neither created nor lost during ecological interactions. A central tenet of ES is that elemental imbalances between resources and the requirements of organisms determine properties and drive ecological processes at all levels of biological organization, ranging from ecophysiology to population and community dynamics to ecosystem processes. Since the publication of the ES book of Sterner and Elser in 2002 [1], many studies have confirmed numerous aspects of the initial framework, leading to original and important breakthroughs in ecological sciences. On the other hand, several aspects of the initial assumptions have been seriously questioned. My presentation will first focus on the main changes that must be applied to the initial ES concepts and their implications for ES research. In particular, organisms elemental ratios do not systematically give good proxies of organisms elemental requirements, and strict homeostasis cannot be generalize to all taxa. Consumers are also often far more selective than initially considered, and resource stoichiometric heterogeneity has too long been neglected. I will then briefly discuss what I consider as key findings that occurred in the past few years. First of all, while most ES studies primarily focused on elemental limitations, elemental excess might require particular attention, especially in the context of global eutrophication. Then, while initially applied to lacustrine herbivores, ES concepts are now more widely applied, in very diverse ecosystems and on very diverse taxa or trophic guilds. Finally, the importance of other interacting limiting factors (e.g. essential biomolecules such as some fatty acids or amino acids), is increasingly acknowledged. Far from being exhaustive, this presentation is aimed at demonstrating that ES is an important and powerful, but fast evolving conceptual framework. This discipline offers huge perspectives of work, and would clearly benefit from the inputs of other scientific disciplines.
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Contributor : Michael Danger <>
Submitted on : Friday, April 23, 2021 - 3:39:23 PM
Last modification on : Monday, April 26, 2021 - 11:35:46 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-03206804, version 1



Michael Danger. Thirty years of Ecological Stoichiometry: recent conceptual changes and research perspectives. International Conference of Ecological Sciences SFE², Oct 2018, Rennes, France. ⟨hal-03206804⟩



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