NCEAS Project 2154

Ecological stoichiometry of plant-herbivore interactions

  • James J. Elser
  • William F. Fagan

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Graduate Student1st January—30th May 1999Participant List  
Working Group1st—4th June 1999Participant List  
Graduate Student10th September—31st December 1999Participant List  
Graduate Student10th September—31st December 1999Participant List  
Working Group5th—7th December 1999Participant List  
Working Group30th April—2nd May 2000Participant List  
Working Group24th—26th October 2000Participant List  
Working Group21st—24th January 2001Participant List  

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We propose a working group to investigate how the ecological stoichiometry of plant-herbivore interactions influences community dynamics in terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The relative availability of the elements carbon [C], nitrogen [N], and phosphorous [P] in autotrophic resource species in comparison with the relative demand for those elements in the body tissues of consumer species is believed to underlie major aspects of community organization in pelagic systems. Similar stoichiometric perspectives are rarely applied in studies of terrestrial plant-herbivore systems, even though suitable data exist on which to base preliminary syntheses. We seek to investigate how the stoichiometry of primary producers and herbivores compares between aquatic and terrestrial systems and how differences between habitats scale as functions of consumer body size, phylogeny, and specific growth rate. These analyses will provide insight into the ways in which organisms? elemental stoichiometry influences plant-herbivore dynamics and food web structure and function. Spatial modeling of stoichiometric plant-herbivore dynamics should yield novel insights into issues of species coexistence and spatial patterning. Over all this research will offer a new, synthetic perspective on the ways food web structure and dynamics link population and ecosystem level processes.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Denno, Robert F.; Fagan, William F. 2003. Might nitrogen limitation promote omnivory among carnivorous arthropods?. Ecology. Vol: 84. Pages 2522-2531.
Journal Article Elser, James J.; Fagan, William F.; Denno, Robert F.; Dobberfuhl, Dean R.; Folarin, Ayoola; Huberty, Andrea; Interlandi, Sebastian; Kilham, Susan S.; McCauley, Edward; Schulz, Kimberly L.; Siemann, Evan; Sterner, R. W. 2000. Nutritional constraints in terrestrial and freshwater food webs. Nature. Vol: 408. Pages 578-580.
Presentations Elser, James J. 2001. Modeling the effects of herbivore stoichiometry on the stability of plant-herbivore systems. Annual meeting of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, February 2001. Albuquerque, NM.
Journal Article Fagan, William F.; Siemann, Evan; Mitter, Charles; Denno, Robert F.; Huberty, Andrea; Woods, H. A.; Elser, James J. 2002. Nitrogen in insects: Implications for trophic complexity and species diversification. American Naturalist. Vol: 160. Pages 784-802.
Data Set Fagan, William F. 2006. Ecological stoichiometry of plant-herbivore interactions. (Online version)
Journal Article Muller, Erik B.; Nisbet, Roger M.; Kooijman, S. A. L. M.; Elser, James J.; McCauley, Edward. 2001. Stoichiometric food quality and herbivore dynamics. Ecology Letters. Vol: 4. Pages 519-529.