"While nitrogen deposition impacts on terrestrial systems have been well studied, we are just learning how or if such human-induced nitrogen shifts affect biodiversity in aquatic systems," Elser says.
How energy and materials flow in ecosystems, and how the ratio of key elements drive ecological dynamics, also underlies Elser's focus on another element: phosphorus and its impact globally as a key component of fertilizer. Phosphorus helped fueled the "Green Revolution" in agriculture; however, scientists are beginning to note that quantities and qualities of this mined resources are limited, and that the bulk of the world's supply resides in Morocco. And while more than 40 countries experienced food riots in 2008 due to rising food prices due in part to a 700-percent spike in phosphorus fertilizer costs phosphorus is commonly overused in the developed world, with run-off from agricultural areas tied to algal blooms and expanding oceanic dead zones in coastal areas. In response to his and other scientists' concerns, Elser, a professor in the School of Life Sciences in ASU's College of Liberals Arts and Sciences, founded the ASU Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative at ASU in 2010 with colleagues Dan Childers, a professor with ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability, and Mark Edwards, a professor with the W.P. Carey School of Business. The initiative spurred the launch of the international Sustainable Phosphorus Summit in 2011, coordinated by ASU doctoral student Jessica Corman, which brought together more than 100 scientists, engineers, teachers, students and entrepreneurs to discuss how to recycle, reclaim, reuse and more sustainably manage this limited resource. South America is one of the regions of the world tha
|Contact: Margaret Coulombe|
Arizona State University