ELEMENTALSHIFT
National Projects
Project duration: 
Jan 2020 to Dec 2022
Bioelements are crucial determinants of the structure and function of living organisms and ecosystem, food production and quality, and human health, but have never been studied in an integrated manner. The availabilities of C from rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and of N from various human-induced inputs to ecosystems are continuouslyincreasing, but these increases are not paralleled by similar increases in other earth-bond elements such as P or K. The inexorable change in the stoichiometry of C and N relative to P and K, but also among the other bioelements, Ca, Mg, S,... has no equivalent in Earth’s history. The global implications of the increasing changes in bioelemental fluxes and stocks remain a virtually unexplored research field but are highly relevant to life, the Earth system, and society.

Introduction

We aim to 1) identify and quantify these changes driven by global change in elementomes (elemental content) in environments (soil and water), organisms, ecosystems and food, 2) identify and codify the profound but uncertain effects and feedbacks of these biogeochemical and stoichiometric environmental changes on the elemental composition, structure and functioning of organisms, communities and ecosystems and on food security and human health, and 3) identify and develop options to improve recycling and the management of the N, P, K, Ca, Mg and S cycles to avoid global nutrient imbalances as much as possible, especially N:P, N:K, and P:K, and their negative impacts.
 
We will integrate observations, experimentation, theory and modelling at different temporal and spatial scales in a project that will evaluate, predict, and provide possible solutions to the anthropogenic imbalances in elementomes and their effects on nature and humans. Accomplishing these objectives will allow us to determine whether the shift in the biospheric bioelementome should be added to the list of drivers of global change and to the “planetary boundaries”