Lotka re-loaded: Modeling trophic interactions under stoichiometric constraints

James J. Elser, Irakli Loladze, Angela L. Peace, Yang Kuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Nearly a century ago A.J. Lotka provided fundamental formulations for population modeling; less appreciated are his explorations of the underlying material (elemental) basis of life and its implications for ecology and evolution. This paper describes recent developments in ecological and biological stoichiometry that unify these aspects of Lotka's work. Stoichiometrically explicit versions of the Lotka-Volterra equations capture key missing aspects of food web interactions, such as the effects of food quality and nutrient recycling feedbacks, and encompass a richer, and potentially more realistic, set of dynamics than non-stoichiometric models. These stoichiometric models are now being further extended to include the recently discovered effects of excess dietary nutrient content on consumer performance. The multi-dimensional capacity of stoichiometric models is likely to be of particular value given the pressing need to anticipate the ecological effects of globally dynamic perturbations of multiple chemical elements (e.g. C, N, and P) due to human actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Modelling
StatePublished - Oct 24 2012


  • Dynamics
  • Food web
  • Lotka-Volterra
  • Nutrients
  • Stoichiometry


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