Spring 2023 Seminar Series: Patterns and Controls of Plant Stoichiometric Flexibility

Spring 2023 INCyTE Seminar Details:

When: Wednesdays, 9-10:30 am US MST/11-12:30 pm US EST/4-5:30 pm UTC, March 1 – April 5, 2023

Format: 1.5 hours weekly Zoom meeting for 6 weeks, with a mix of presentations by invited speakers and collaborative discussions

Invited participants: ecologists and biogeoscientists (both empirical/experimental and modelers) of all career stages (early career participants are welcome!!)

Description: Ecosystem stoichiometry is a key driver of global biogeochemical cycling and influences the ways carbon (C) and nutrient cycles respond to global change. Multiple lines of evidence show that ecosystem stoichiometry is shifting globally due to several factors, including rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N) deposition, and climate change (McNeil et al. 2007; Fleischer et al. 2013; Du et al. 2019; Wang et al. 2021, Mason et al. 2022). While stoichiometric flexibility may be a key determinant of future C and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, it remains uncertain whether plants exhibit sufficient stoichiometric flexibility to maintain growth despite growing imbalances in C, N and phosphorus (P) availability that are anticipated with environmental change. Accordingly, an improved understanding of stoichiometric flexibility would significantly advance our understanding and capacity to forecast terrestrial ecosystem responses to change.

In part, uncertainty about stoichiometric controls over ecosystem processes stems from a poor understanding of how C:N:P ratios are coupled across space, such as within individual plants, among species, and across ecosystems, as well as over time. To address this uncertainty, the Investigating Nutrient Cycles in Terrestrial Ecosystems (INCyTE) Network is proposing a distributed experiment to develop a set of stoichiometric observatories that will explore how ecosystem stoichiometry is coupled vertically, from tree canopies into soil, as well as how those relationships vary across environmental gradients. Data collected by participants will contribute to a global and community accessible stoichiometry database.

The overarching goal of the stoichiometric observatories is to explore C:N:P relationships among ecosystem compartments, as well as assess environmental drivers of stoichiometric flexibility (Fig. 1). Within these larger goals, the specific concepts, questions, and methodology guiding observatory establishment will be collaboratively developed through an INCyTE seminar series in the spring of 2023. We will review knowledge gaps and hypotheses on the theme of stoichiometric flexibility, discuss how to design and implement a successful distributed experiment, and generate protocols for consistent sampling across forests. Anyone interested in participating in a network of distributed stoichiometric observatories is encouraged to register for the INCyTE Network at the link below.  Please join us this spring for these exciting discussions about stoichiometric flexibility!