Balance matters: biodiversity and nutrient stoichiometry

Credit: Franziska Tanneberger

Ecological stoichiometry is about the balance of energy and elements in environment and organisms. In the Anthropocene the balance between the essential elements carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus has been altered. Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, anthropogenic modification has raised atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 280 to more than 400 ppm and the rate at reactive nitrogen enters the terrestrial biosphere had doubled whereas phosphorus inputs to the environment have more than doubled. These modifications comprise perturbations of the global ecosystems that may exceed the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity. Increased bioavailability of C, N and P has direct impacts on terrestrial plant community functioning and diversity. We study the biogeochemical cycling of these nutrients and how changes in the bioavailability and balance affect the persistence or disappearance of plant species.



  • NWO-GO
  • NWO Biodiversity,
  • UU
  • Chinese Scholarship


Wassen, Martin Joseph, Schrader, Julian, van Dijk, Jerry & Eppinga, Maarten Boudewijn (2021). Phosphorus fertilization is eradicating the niche of northern Eurasia’s threatened plant species. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 5, (pp. 67-73) (21 p.).

Wassen, Martin Joseph, Schrader, Julian, van Dijk, Jerry & Eppinga, Maarten Boudewijn (2020). Exploring the complex role of nutrient ratios in the conservation of threatened plant species - Behind the paper.

Loozen, Yasmina, Rebel, Karin T., de Jong, Steven M., Lu, Meng, Ollinger, Scott V., Wassen, Martin J. & Karssenberg, Derek (15.09.2020). Mapping canopy nitrogen in European forests using remote sensing and environmental variables with the random forests method. Remote Sensing of Environment, 247 (11 p.).

Fleischer, Katrin, Dolman, A. J., van der Molen, Michiel K., Rebel, Karin T., Erisman, Jan Willem, Wassen, Martin J., Pak, Bernard, Lu, Xingjie, Rammig, Anja & Wang, Ying Ping (2019). Nitrogen Deposition Maintains a Positive Effect on Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration in the 21st Century Despite Growing Phosphorus Limitation at Regional Scales. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 33 (6), (pp. 810-824) (15 p.).

Wang, Shuqiong, van Dijk, Jerry & Wassen, Martin J. (2019). Sexual reproduction traits of Holcus lanatus L. and Parnassia palustris L. in response to absolute and relative supply of nitrogen and phosphorus. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 168.

Loozen, Yasmina, Karssenberg, Derek, de Jong, Steven M., Wang, Shuqiong, van Dijk, Jerry, Wassen, Martin J. & Rebel, Karin T. (2019). Exploring the use of vegetation indices to sense canopy nitrogen to phosphorous ratio in grasses. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 75, (pp. 1-14) (14 p.).

van der Grift, Bas, Osté, Leonard, Schot, Paul, Kratz, Arjen, van Popta, Emma, Wassen, Martin & Griffioen, Jasper (01.08.2018). Forms of phosphorus in suspended particulate matter in agriculture-dominated lowland catchments - Iron as phosphorus carrier. Science of the Total Environment, 631-632, (pp. 115-129) (15 p.).

Braakhekke, Maarten C., Rebel, Karin T., Dekker, Stefan C., Smith, Benjamin, Beusen, A.H.W. & Wassen, Martin J. (12.12.2017). Nitrogen leaching from natural ecosystems under global change - A modelling study. Earth System Dynamics, 8 (4), (pp. 1121-1139) (19 p.).

van der Grift, B., Behrends, T., Osté, L.A., Schot, P.P., Wassen, M.J. & Griffioen, J. (01.08.2016). Fe hydroxyphosphate precipitation and Fe(II) oxidation kinetics upon aeration of Fe(II) and phosphate-containing synthetic and natural solutions. Geochmica et Cosmochimica Acta, 186, (pp. 71-90) (20 p.).

Fleischer, K., Wårlind, D., Van Der Molen, M. K., Rebel, K. T., Arneth, A., Erisman, J. W., Wassen, M. J., Smith, B., Gough, C. M., Margolis, H. A., Cescatti, A., Montagnani, L., Arain, A. & Dolman, A. J. (01.12.2015). Low historical nitrogen deposition effect on carbon sequestration in the boreal zone. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 120 (12), (pp. 2542-2561) (20 p.).

Fujita, Yuki, Venterink, Harry Olde, Van Bodegom, Peter M., Douma, Jacob C., Heil, Gerrit, Hölzel, Norbert, Jabłońska, Ewa, Kotowski, Wiktor, Okruszko, Tomasz, Pawlikowski, Paweł, De Ruiter, Peter C. & Wassen, Martin J. (18.02.2014). Low investment in sexual reproduction threatens plants adapted to phosphorus limitation. Nature, 505 (7481), (pp. 82-86) (5 p.).