The role of phytoplankton diversity in the emergent oceanic stoichiometry

Juan A. Bonachela, Christopher A. Klausmeier, Kyle F. Edwards, Elena Litchman, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Marine phytoplankton are a taxonomically and functionally diverse group of organisms that are key players in the most important biogeochemical cycles. Phytoplankton taxa show different resource utilization strategies (e.g. nutrient-uptake rates and cellular allocation) and traits. Therefore, acknowledging this diversity is crucial to understanding how elemental cycles operate, including the origin and dynamics of elemental ratios. In this paper, we focus on trait-based models as tools to study the role of phytoplankton diversity in the stoichiometric phenomenology observed in the laboratory and in the open ocean. We offer a compilation of known empirical results on stoichiometry and summarize how trait-based approaches have attempted to replicate these results. By contrasting the different ecological and evolutionary approaches available in the literature, we explore the strengths and limitations of the existing models. We thus try to identify existing gaps and challenges, and point to potential new directions that can be explored to fill these gaps. We aim to highlight the potential of including diversity explicitly in our modeling approaches, which can help us gain important knowledge about changes in local and global stoichiometric patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1035
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


  • Phytoplankton
  • Redfield
  • Stoichiometry
  • Trait-based models


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