Carbon (C), Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) are three of the most important elements used to build living beings, and their uptake from the environment is consequently essential for all organisms. Photosynthesis is the process in which plants absorb atmospheric C as they grow and convert it to biomass. However, plants acquire N and P only when these are available in the soil solution, which makes these elements the most limiting nutrients in plant growth and productivity in most ecosystems. When plant residues and roots decompose, the C, N and P they contain is transformed primarily into soil organic matter (SOM) or C and N can release to the atmosphere. Recent interest on the global C, N and P cycles has focused attention on the different proportion of terrestrial C, N and P stored in different ecosystem pools. Cuatro Cienegas in Mexico represents an exceptional place, since the plants are not the base of the food web, they are the microbial community, that recycle the elements essential for life. In this book, the authors describe how this is an analog of early Earth.
1. Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Terrestrial Pools: where are the main nutrients located in the grasslands of the Cuatro Cienegas Basin?
2. The terrestrial N budget of an endangered oasis
3. The effect of nutrients and N:P ratio on microbial communities: testing the Growth Rate Hypothesis and its extensions in Lagunita Pond (Churince)
4. How to understand the effect of nutrients availability on the ecological role of filamentous microfungi: lessons from elemental stoichiometry
5. Life on a stoichiometric knife-edge: biogeochemical interactions and trophic interactions in stromatolites in Rio Mesquites
6. The sulfur cycle as the gear of the "clock of life": the point of convergence between geological and genomic data in the Cuatro Cienegas Basin
7. Towards a comprehensive understanding of environmental perturbations in microbial mats from the Cuatro Cienegas Basin by network modeling
8. The magnetotactic bacteria of the Churince Lagoon at Cuatro Cienegas Basin
9. Ecological adaptability of Bacillus to the extreme oligotrophy of the Cuatro Cienegas Basin
10. Bacterial siderophore-mediated iron-acquisition in Cuatro Cienegas Basin: a complex community interplay made simpler in the light of evolutionary genomics
11. Animal-mediated nutrient cycling in aquatic ecosystems of the Cuatro Cienegas basin
12. How Agricultural Practices Modify Soil Nutrients Dynamics?
Felipe García-Oliva obtained his B.Sc. degree in Geography from the Philosophy and Letters Faculty, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City. Then he obtained his Ph degree from Ecology Institute, UNAM. In 1994 he was hired by the Institute of Ecology, UNAM, where he is now a full Professor in the Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, UNAM at Morelia city. He has published 72 papers and 16 book chapters. He has been awarded level III in the National Researchers System of Mexico (SNI) and is a regular member of Mexican Academy of Sciences. Research Interests: Soil biogeochemistry; C dynamics on terrestrial ecosystems; link between soil bacteria biodiversity and soil nutrient dynamics. Chair of Science Steering Group of Programa Mexicano del Carbono (Mexican Carbon Program, 2005-2009) and General Coordinator of the same Program (2009-2011).
James Elser is Bierman Professor of Ecology of the University of Montana and since March 2016 has been Director of the Flathead Lake Biological Station at Yellow Bay. He also holds a part-time research faculty position in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. Trained as a limnologist, Dr Elser is best known for his work in developing and testing the theory of ecological stoichiometry, the study of the balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in ecological systems. Currently, Dr Elser's research focuses most intensively on Flathead Lake as well as mountain lakes of western Montana and western China. Specific studies involve observational and experimental studies at various scales, including laboratory cultures, short-term field experiments and sustained whole-ecosystem manipulations. Previous field sites have included the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario, Canada; lakes of the Arctic and of Patagonia; lakes, forests, and grasslands of the upper Midwest; and desert springs in Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert. In recognition of his research accomplishments, Dr Elser has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as well as a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received the Lindeman Award and the G.E. Hutchinson Award of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, the world's largest scientific association dedicated to aquatic sciences. Dr Elser holds a PhD from the University of California (Davis), an MS degree from the University of Tennessee, and a BS degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Valeria Souza was born in Mexico City and completed her bachelor's degree in Biology, master's degree in Genetics and PhD in Ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). In 1990 Valeria went to Irvine California (UCI) to work with Rich Lenski and learn experimental evolution. In 1993, she took on a research position at UNAM in Mexico, where she still works today. Her field is Evolutionary Ecology of Microbes and when Valeria completed her PhD, there were no other researchers studying it in Mexico, and very few in the world. As a young researcher, she received a MacArthur fellowship to investigate the role of women in biodiversity and she chose to explore how domestications had changed microbial populations and published a paper on ethnomicrobiology. At the same time she began exploring the role of bacterial sex in the evolution of the pathogenicity in E. coli comparing human related strains with wild animal isolates. In 1999, all of those more predictable trails in academia changed when Valeria and Dr. Eguiarte were invited by NASA to explore a new world in a journey that led them to the depths of microbial biodiversity in an unlikely oasis in the Chihuahuan desert.