James Elser

  • Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Regents' Professor, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Sciences, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501
Email: j.elser@asu.edu
Web: http://elserlab.asu.edu/


Dr. Elser's research involves the integrative field of biological stoichiometry, the study of balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in living systems. While this work is primarily ecological in focus and includes studies of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and biota, the approach uses an evolutionary perspective to integrate levels of organization from the molecule and cell to the ecosystem. Specific studies involve observational and experimental studies at various scales, including laboratory cultures, short-term field experiments and sustained whole-ecosystem manipulations. Over the years, field sites have included the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario, Canada; lakes of the Arctic, Colorado and Norway; lakes, forests, and grasslands of the upper Midwest; desert springs in Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert; hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, and the surrounding Sonoran Desert. In addition, Dr. Elser collaborates extensively with mathematicians in developing quantitative theoretical approaches to these questions. In more recent work he has extended the work to investigate the connections among C:N:P stoichiometry, growth rate, rRNA physiology and genetics, and ecological dynamics in diverse biota and ecosystems and to evaluate the application of these ideas to tumor dynamics. Dr. Elser has received numerous awards for his innovative research and teaching, including election as a Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS). Currently, he is an active member of the ASU's NASA-funded Astrobiology project "Follow the Elements" and a co-organizer of ASU's Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative.


biological stoichiometry; limnology; community ecology; ecosystem ecology; physiological ecology; life-history evolution; molecular evolution; astrobiology; atmospheric nitrogen deposition; atmospheric processes; agriculture; climate change impacts; marine ecology; plant ecology; species adaptation; terrestrial ecology; biogeochemical processes


    Ph.D., Ecology, University of California-Davis, 1990

    M.S., Ecology, University of Tennessee, 1983

    B.S., Biology, summa cum laude, University of Notre Dame, 1981

Journal Articles


Borer, E. T., M. E. Bracken, E. W. Seabloom, J. E. Smith, J. Cebrian, E. E. Cleland, J. J. Elser, W. F. Fagan, D. S. Gruner, W. S. Harpole, H. Hillebrand, A. J. Kerkhoff and J. T. Ngai. 2013. Global biogeography of autotroph chemistry: Is insolation a driving force?. Oikos 122(8):1121-1130. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00465.x. (link)

De Senerpont Domis, L. N., J. J. Elser, A. S. Gsell, V. L. Huszar, B. W. Ibelings, E. Jeppesen, S. Kosten, W. M. Mooij, F. Roland, U. Sommer, E. Van Donk, M. Winder and M. Lürling. 2013. Plankton dynamics under different climatic conditions in space and time. Freshwater Biology 58(3):463-482. DOI: 10.1111/fwb.12053. (link)

Modenutti, B. E., E. G. Balseiro, J. J. Elser, M. Bastidas Navarro, F. Cuassolo, C. Laspoumaderes, M. S. Souza and V. Diaz Villanueva. 2013. Effect of volcanic eruption on nutrients, light, and phytoplankton in oligotrophic lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 58(4):1165-1175. DOI: 10.4319/lo.2013.58.4.1165. (link)

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Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds. 2013. Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future. Oxford University Press.

Book Chapters


Childers, D. L., Z. Caple, C. Carlielle-Marquet, D. Cordell, V. Gerhart, D. Iwaniec and S. White. 2013. Future scenarios for the sustainable use of global phosphorus resources: P is for preferred (p)futures. In: Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds., Phosphorus, Food, and Our Futures. Oxford Press.

Corman, J., K. A. Wyant and J. J. Elser. 2013. Concluding remarks: Synthesis and initial steps toward a sustainable phosphorus future. Pp. 199-212 In: Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds., Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future. Oxford University Press.

Corman, J., K. A. Wyant, L. Taylor, D. Iwaniec and R. L. Hale. 2013. Preface. In: Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds., Phosphorus, Food, and Our Futures. Oxford University Press.

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Elser, J. J. 1999. CAP LTER K-12 education program. Poster presented at the 22 January 1999, CAP LTER First Annual Poster Symposium, Center for Environmental Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe.



Elser, J. J. and L. Randall. 2009. Urban Heat Island: Introduction and activities. Presented Saturday, Dec 5, 2009 at the National Science Teachers Association Area Conference on Science Education, Phoenix, AZ.

Wu, J., S. Naeem, J. J. Elser, Y. Bai, J. Huang, L. Kang, C. F. Clark, Q. Wang, Q. Pan and X. Han. 2009. Testing biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships. Albuquerque, NM. Presentation at the August 2-7, 2009 94th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America.


Schwartz, K. and J. J. Elser. 2007. Using survey instruments to design more effective workshops. November 14, 2007 Research Symposium at the North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference, Virginia Beach, VA. (link)

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