Exploring Fundamental Drivers of Ecosystem Function

Dr. Jon Benstead downloading temperature data from a data logger installed at his field site in western Iceland.

Dr. Benstead’s research program focuses on how energy availability, nutrient limitation, and temperature interact to affect food web structure and ecosystem-level processes. While his research leverages the unique characteristics of streams and their suitability for ecosystem-level research, it concentrates on broad questions that are also relevant to other ecosystem types. Although guided by theory, Dr. Benstead’s research has a strong empirical approach, spans scales from the individual to the ecosystem, and often exploits both natural landscape gradients and ecosystem-level manipulations. A major goal for him and his collaborators is to integrate the metabolic theory of ecology, with its emphasis on temperature and body size, with the explicit multiple-element approach to resource limitation that is central to ecological stoichiometry theory. To this end, one of our current projects takes advantage of geothermal streams in Iceland to explore the interactions between temperature and the mass balance of carbon and nutrients in ecological interactions.

Find out more about Dr. Benstead’s research at the Benstead lab web site.