James Elser

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
President, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography

j.elser@asu.edu
480-965-9747
Website

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501

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.

PhD, Ecology, University of California-Davis, 1990

MS, Ecology, University of Tennessee, 1983

BS, Biology, summa cum laude, University of Notre Dame, 1981

Journal Articles

2015

Cease, A. J., J. J. Elser, E. P. Fenichel, J. C. Hadrich, J. F. Harrison and B. E. Robinson. 2015. Living with locusts: Connecting soil nitrogen, locust outbreaks, livelihoods, and livestock markets. BioScience 65(6):551-558. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biv048. (link)

2014

Zhang, Z., J. J. Elser, A. J. Cease, X. Zhang, Q. Yu and X. Han. 2014. Grasshoppers regulate N:P stoichiometric homeostasis by changing phosphorus contents in their frass. PLOS One 9(8):e103697. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103697. (link)

2013

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)

Cease, A. J. and J. J. Elser. 2013. Biological stoichiometry. Nature Education Knowledge 4(5):3. (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)

Peace, A. L., Y. Zhao, J. J. Elser and Y. Kuang. 2013. A stoichiometric producer-grazer model incorporating the effects of excess food-nutrient content on consumer dynamics. Mathematical Biosciences 244(2):107-115. DOI: 10.1016/j.mbs.2013.04.011. (link)

2012

Cease, A. J., J. J. Elser, C. F. Ford, S. Hao, L. Kang and J. F. Harrison. 2012. Heavy livestock grazing promotes locust outbreaks by lowering plant nitrogen content. Science 335(6067):467-469. DOI: 10.1126/science.1214433 . (link)

Elser, J. J. 2012. Phosphorus: Limiting nutrient for humanity?. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 23(6):833-838. DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2012.03.001. (link)

Elser, J. J., I. Loladze, A. L. Peace and Y. Kuang. 2012. Lotka re-loaded: Modeling trophic interactions under stoichiometric constraints. Ecological Modelling 245(2012):3-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.02.006. (link)

Gaxiola, R. A., C. A. Sanchez, J. Paez-Valencia, B. G. Ayre and J. J. Elser. 2012. Genetic manipulation of a "vacuolar" H+-PPase: From salt tolerance to yield enhancement under phosphorus-deficient soils. Plant Physiology 159(1):3-11. DOI: 10.1104/pp.112.195701. (link)

McCrackin, M. L. and J. J. Elser. 2012. Denitrification kinetics and denitrifier abundances in sediments of lakes receiving atmospheric nitrogen deposition (Colorado, USA). Biogeochemistry 108(1-3):39-54. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-011-9571-5. (link)

Metson, G. S., E. M. Bennett and J. J. Elser. 2012. The role of diet in phosphorus demand. Environmental Research Letters 7(4):044043. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044043. (link)

Sommer, U., R. Adrian, L. N. De Senerpont Domis, J. J. Elser, U. Gaedke, B. W. Ibelings, E. Jeppesen, M. Lürling, J. C. Molinero, W. M. Mooij, E. Van Donk and M. Winder. 2012. Beyond the Plankton Ecology Group (PEG) Model: Mechanisms driving plankton succession. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 43:429-448. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-110411-160251. (link)

Souza, V., L. E. Eguiarte, M. Travisano, J. J. Elser, C. Rooks and J. L. Siefert. 2012. Travel, sex, and food: what's speciation got to do with it?. Astrobiology 12(7):634-640. DOI: 10.1089/ast.2011.0768. (link)

Souza, V., J. L. Siefert, A. E. Escalante, J. J. Elser and L. E. Eguiarte. 2012. The Cuatro Ciénegas Basin in Coahuila, Mexico: An astrobiological Precambrian Park. Astrobiology 12(7):64. DOI: 10.1089/ast.2011.0675. (link)

Swenson, N. G., B. J. Enquist, J. Pither, A. J. Kerkhoff, B. Boyle, M. D. Weiser, J. J. Elser, W. F. Fagan, J. Forero-Montaña, N. Fyllas, N. J. Kraft, J. K. Lake, A. T. Moles, S. T. Patiño, O. L. Phillips, C. A. Price, P. B. Reich, C. A. Quesada, J. C. Stegen, R. Valencia, I. J. Wright, S. J. Wright, S. Andelman, P. M. Jørgensen, T. E. Lacher Jr, A. Monteagudo, M. P. Nuñez-Vargas, R. Vasquez-Martinez and K. M. Nolting. 2012. The biogeography and filtering of woody plant functional diversity in North and South America. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21(8):798-808. DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2011.00727.x. (link)

Wang, H., R. W. Sterner and J. J. Elser. 2012. On the “strict homeostasis” assumption in ecological stoichiometry. Ecological Modelling 243(2012):81-88. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.06.003. (link)

Yu, Q., H. Wu, N. He, X. Lu, Z. Wang, J. J. Elser, J. Wu and X. Han. 2012. Testing the growth rate hypothesis in vascular plants with above- and below-ground biomass. PLOS One 7(3):e32162. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032162. (link)

2011

Childers, D. L., J. Corman, M. Edwards and J. J. Elser. 2011. Sustainability challenges of phosphorus and food: Solutions from closing the human phosphorus cycle. BioScience 61(2):117-124. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/bio.2011.61.2.6. (link)

Elser, J. J. 2011. A world awash with nitrogen. Science 334(6062):1504-1505. DOI: 10.1126/science.1215567. (link)

Elser, J. J., C. Acquisti and S. Kumar. 2011. Stoichiogenomics: The evolutionary ecology of macromolecular elemental composition. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 26(1):38-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2010.10.006. (link)

Elser, J. and E. Bennett. 2011. A broken biogeochemical cycle. Nature 478(06 October 2011):29-31. DOI: 10.1038/478029a. (link)

Gaxiola, R. A., M. Edwards and J. J. Elser. 2011. A transgenic approach to enhance phosphorus use efficiency in crops as part of a comprehensive strategy for sustainable agriculture. Chemosphere 84(6):840-845. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.01.062. (link)

Harpole, W. S., J. T. Ngai, E. E. Cleland, E. W. Seabloom, E. T. Borer, M. E. Bracken, J. J. Elser, D. S. Gruner, H. Hillebrand, J. B. Shurin and J. E. Smith. 2011. Nutrient co-limitation of primary producer communities. Ecology Letters 14(2011):852-862. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01651.x. (link)

Loladze, I. and J. J. Elser. 2011. The origins of the Redfield nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratio are in a homeostatic protein-to-rRNA ratio. Ecology Letters 14(3):244-250. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01577.x. (link)

Wojewodzic, M. W., M. Kyle, J. J. Elser, D. O. Hessen and T. Andersen. 2011. Joint effect of phosphorus limitation and temperature on alkaline phosphatase activity and somatic growth in Daphnia magna. Oecologica 165(4):838-846. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-010-1863-2. (link)

Yu, Q., J. J. Elser, N. He, H. Wu, Q. Chen, G. Zhang and X. Han. 2011. Stoichiometric homeostasis of vascular plants in the Inner Mongolia grassland. Oecologia 166(1):1-10. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-010-1902-z. (link)

Zhang, G., X. Han and J. J. Elser. 2011. Rapid top-down regulation of plant C:N:P stoichiometry by grasshoppers in an Inner Mongolia grassland ecosystem. Oecologia 166(1):253-264. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-011-1904-5. (link)

2010

Cease, A. J., S. Hao, L. Kang, J. J. Elser and J. F. Harrison. 2010. Are color or high rearing density related to migratory polyphenism in the band-winged grasshopper, Oedaleus asiaticus?. Journal of Insect Physiology 56(8):926-936. DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.05.020. (link)

Elser, J. J., W. F. Fagan, A. J. Kerkhoff, N. G. Swenson and B. J. Enquist. 2010. Biological stoichiometry of plant production: Metabolism, scaling and ecological response to global change. New Phytologist 186(3):593-608. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03214.x. (link)

Elser, J. J., A. L. Peace, M. Kyle, M. Wojewodzic, M. L. McCrackin, T. Andersen and D. O. Hessen. 2010. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition is associated with elevated phosphorus limitation of lake zooplankton. Ecology Letters 13(10):1256-1261. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01519.x. (link)

Glass, J. B., F. Wolfe-Simon, J. J. Elser and A. D. Anbar. 2010. Molybdenum–nitrogen co-limitation in freshwater and coastal heterocystous cyanobacteria. Limnology and Oceanography 55(2):667-676. DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.2.0667. (link)

McCrackin, M. L. and J. J. Elser. 2010. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition influences denitrification and nitrous oxide production in lakes. Ecology 91(2):528-539. DOI: 10.1890/08-2210.1. (link)

Reich, P. B., J. Oleksyn, I. J. Wright, K. J. Niklas, L. Hedin and J. J. Elser. 2010. Evidence of a general 2/3-power law of scaling leaf nitrogen to phosphorus among major plant groups and biomes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277(1683):877-883. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1818. (link)

Urabe, J., S. Naeem, D. Raubenheimer and J. J. Elser. 2010. The evolution of biological stoichiometry under global change. Oikos 119(5):737-740. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.18596.x. (link)

Yu, Q., Q. Chen, J. J. Elser, N. He, H. Wu, G. Zhang, J. Wu, Y. Bai and X. Han. 2010. Linking stoichiometric homeostasis with ecosystem structure, functioning, and stability.. Ecology Letters 13(11):1390-1399. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01532.x. (link)

2009

Acquisti, C., J. J. Elser and S. Kumar. 2009. Ecological nitrogen limitation shapes the DNA composition of plant genomes. Molecular Biology and Evolution 26(5):953-956. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msp038. (link)

Acquisti, C., S. Kumar and J. J. Elser. 2009. Signatures of nitrogen limitation in the elemental composition of the proteins involved in the metabolic apparatus. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276(1667):2605-2610. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1960 . (link)

Carpenter, S. R., E. V. Armbrust, P. W. Arzberger, F. S. Chapin III, J. J. Elser, E. J. Hackett, P. M. Kareiva, M. A. Leibold, P. Lundberg, M. Mangel, N. Merchant, W. W. Murdoch, M. A. Palmer, D. P. Peters, S. T. Pickett, K. K. Smith, D. H. Wall and A. S. Zimmerman. 2009. Accelerate synthesis in ecology and environmental sciences. BioScience 59(8):699-701. (link)

Elser, J. J., T. Andersen, J. S. Baron, A. Bergström, M. Jansson, M. Kyle, K. R. Nydick, L. Steger and D. O. Hessen. 2009. Shifts in lake N:P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation driven by atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Science 326(5954):835-837. DOI: 10.1126/science.1176199 . (link)

Elser, J. J., M. Kyle, L. Steger, K. R. Nydick and J. S. Baron. 2009. Nutrient availability and phytoplankton nutrient limitation across a gradient of atmospheric nitrogen deposition.. Ecology 90(11):3062-3073. DOI: 10.1890/08-1742.1. (link)

Hillebrand, H., E. T. Borer, M. E. Bracken, B. J. Cardinale, J. Cebrian, E. E. Cleland, J. J. Elser, D. S. Gruner, W. S. Harpole, J. T. Ngai, S. A. Sandin, E. W. Seabloom, J. B. Shurin, J. E. Smith and M. D. Smith. 2009. Herbivore metabolism and stoichiometry each constrain herbivory at different organizational scales across ecosystems. Ecology Letters 12(6):516-527. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01304.x. (link)

Muldar, C. and J. J. Elser. 2009. Soil acidity, ecological stoichiometry and allometric scaling in grassland food webs. Global Change Biology 15(11):2730-2738. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01899.x. (link)

2008

Carson, E. W., J. J. Elser and T. E. Dowling. 2008. Importance of exogenous selection in a fish hybrid zone: Insights from reciprocal transplant experiments. Copiea 2008(4):794-800. DOI: 10.1643/CP-06-292. (link)

Gruner, D. S., J. E. Smith, E. W. Seabloom, S. A. Sandin, J. T. Ngai, H. Hillebrand, W. S. Harpole, J. J. Elser, E. E. Cleland, M. E. Bracken, E. T. Borer and B. M. Bolker. 2008. A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. Ecology Letters 11(7):740-755. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01192.x. (link)

Hessen, D. O., M. Ventura and J. J. Elser. 2008. Do phosphorus requirements for RNA limit genome size in crustacean zooplankton? . Genome 51(9):685-691. DOI: 10.1139/G08-053. (link)

Souza, V., L. E. Eguiarte, J. Siefert and J. J. Elser. 2008. Microbial endemism: Does phosphorus limitation enhance speciation?. Nature Reviews Microbiology 6:559-564. DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro1917. (link)

Sterner, R. W., T. Andersen, J. J. Elser, D. O. Hessen, J. M. Hood, E. McCauley and J. Urabe. 2008. Scale-dependent carbon: Nitrogen:phosphorus seston stoichiometry in marine and freshwaters. LImnology and Oceanography 52(3):1169-1180. DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.3.1169. (link)

1998

Chrzanowski, T. H., R. W. Sterner and K. M. Mills. 1998. Stoichiometric constraints on food web dynamics: a whole-lake experiment on the Canadian Shield.. Ecosystems

1996

Dobberfuhl, D. R., N. A. MacKay and J. H. Schampel. 1996. Organism size, life history, and N:P stoichiometry: towards a unified view of cellular and ecosystem processes. BioScience 674-684.

1995

Brett, M. T. and C. R. Goldman. 1995. Effects of food web compensation after manipulation of rainbow trout in an oligotrophic lake.. Ecology 52-69.

Foster, D. K. and R. E. Hecky. 1995. Effects of zooplankton on sedimentation in pelagic ecosystems: theory and test in two lakes of the Canadian Shield. Biogeochemistry 143-170.

1994

Hassett, R. P. 1994. A stoichiometric analysis of the zooplankton-phytoplankton interaction in marine and freshwater ecosystems.. Nature 211-213.

Books

2013

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

Book Chapters

2013

Childers, D. L., Z. Caple, C. Carlielle-Marquet, D. Cordell, V. Gerhart, D. M. 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. M. 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.

Elser, J. J., W. M. Roberts and P. M. Haygarth. 2013. The biology and ecology of phosphorus in biota, natural ecosystems, and agroecosystems: P is for phosphorus. Pp. 20-39 In: Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds., Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future. Oxford University Press.

Metson, G. S., K. A. Wyant and D. L. Childers. 2013. Introduction to P sustainability: P is for philosophy and process. Pp. 1-19 In: Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds., Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future. Oxford University Press.

Riskin, S. H., G. Small, R. Mikkelsen, G. S. Metson, A. Bateman, J. Cooper, O. S. Hanserud, P. M. Haygarth, C. Laspoumaderes, M. L. McCrackin and S. M. Remington. 2013. Phosphorus in urban and agricultural landscapes: P is for preservation. Pp. 86-111 In: Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds., Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future. Oxford University Press.

Smith, V. H., C. W. Forsberg, R. A. Gaxiola, T. W. Crawford, Jr, A. R. Sharpley, L. Schreeg and B. Chaffin. 2013. Sustainable P in agriculture: Food fuel: P is for productivity. Pp. 64-85 In: Wyant, K. A., J. Corman and J. J. Elser eds., Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future. Oxford University Press.

2009

Elser, J. J. 2009. Ecological stoichiometry. Pp. 376-385 In: Levin, S. A. ed., Princeton University Press.

2008

Frost, P. and J. J. Elser. 2008. Biological stoichiometry. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley & Sons.

Posters

2010

Cease, A. J., J. J. Elser, S. Hao, L. Kang and J. F. Harrison. 2010. Grasshopper developmental plasticity in heavilygrazed Asian Steppe pastures. Poster presented at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology 2010 Annual Meeting, 3-7 January 2010, Seattle, WA. (link)

2009

Cease, A. J., S. Hao, L. Kang, J. J. Elser and J. F. Harrison. 2009. High density and high nitrogen: A dual stressor for grasshoppers?. Poster presented at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology 2009 Annual Meeting, 3-7 Janiary 2009, Boston, MA. (link)

1999

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.

Presentations

2014

Cease, A. J., M. Fay, J. J. Elser and J. F. Harrison. 2014. Dietary phosphate strongly and nonlinearly affects performance of an omnivourous herbivore. Presentation at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting, 3-7 January 2014, Austin, TX. (link)

2013

Cease, A. J., J. J. Elser, S. Hao and J. F. Harrison. 2013. Low plant nitrogen content and high population density enhance migratory characters in a polyphenic locust. Presentation at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting 2013, 3-7 January 2013, San Francisco, CA. (link)

Cease, A. J., J. F. Harrison, S. J. Simpson and J. J. Elser. 2013. Mongolian locusts may require balanced diets to develop migratory swarms. Presentation at the Australian Entomological Society Annual Meeting, 20 September-2 October 2013, Adelaide, South Australia. (link)

2011

Cease, A. J., J. J. Elser, S. Hao, L. Kang and J. F. Harrison. 2011. Locusts prefer nitrogen‐poor plants in overgrazed pastures. Presentation at the 2011 Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting, 3-7 January 2011, Salt Lake City, UT. (link)

2010

Cease, A. J., J. Elser, S. Hao, L. Kang and J. F. Harrison. 2010. Nutrition‐ and density‐dependent polyphenism in a non‐model locust, the Chinese band‐winged grasshopper Oedaleus asiaticus. Presentation at the The 58th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, 12-15 December 2010, San Diego, CA. (link)

2009

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.

2007

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)

2002

Elser, J. J. and C. Saltz. 2002. Linking scientists, teachers and children in scientific research. Presented at March 2002, Microcomputers in Education Conference, Arizona State University, Tempe.