Angélica L. González
Angélica L. González

We’re happy to welcome Angélica L. González, of the Department of Biology and Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, Rutgers University, to our Editorial Board.

Angélica has broad interests in community and ecosystem ecology and her work combines experiments, surveys, data synthesis, and meta-analysis to understand how changes in the availability of energy and matter constrain and shape the structure and function of ecological systems across spatial and temporal scales.

Find out more about Angélica’s research and her approach to ecology here.

 

 Current Research

Tank bromeliads in Ilha do Cardoso Brazil. Credit: Angélica L. González
Tank bromeliads in Ilha do Cardoso Brazil. Credit: Angélica L. González

My research program focuses on understanding how energetic and material constraints shape the structure and functioning of ecological communities and food webs. I am particularly interested in how stoichiometric traits interact with natural or human-induced changes in energy and nutrient availability to affect processes from organismal physiology to ecosystem nutrient dynamics. Recent studies I am actively involved include work on integrating functional traits and stable isotopes to understand how trophic niches and energy pathways in ecological food webs may change across spatial scales and environmental gradients (Dézerald et al. 2018), and work looking at the potential mechanisms underlying the elemental content of animals, invertebrates in particular (González et al. 2018.) Chemical elements are the building blocks of life and are found in different proportions in the biomass of living organisms across all domains of life. The elemental composition of living organisms represents the outcome of selective pressures and biophysical constraints acting on the chemical needs of life to build biomass and perform biological functions. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the make-up of like can help predict organismal responses to global changes in biogeochemical cycles.

These two pieces of work relate to my overall interest in the integration of community and ecosystem ecology, and the role that energy and nutrient supply play on the structure and function of ecosystems.

 

Recommended Reading

Two recent Functional Ecology papers that I very much enjoyed reading are Durston & El-Sabaawi 2017 “Bony traits and genetics drive intraspecific variation in vertebrate elemental compositionand Sperfeld et al. 2017Bridging Ecological Stoichiometry and Nutritional

Geometry with homeostasis concepts and integrative models of organism nutritionIn the former paper, the authors explore the role of genetic variation as a mechanism underlying intraspecific variation in the chemical make-up of fishes, focusing on Threespine Sticklebacks. They show how genetic and phenotypic variation in bony traits is related to differential phosphorus demands, which in turn affect Sticklebacks’ N:P ratios. As the elemental composition of living organisms can have strong effects on biogeochemical processes, this study also provides an elegant bridge between evolutionary biology (i.e., diversification in body stoichiometry) and ecosystem ecology.

In Bridging Ecological Stoichiometry and Nutritional Geometry with homeostasis concepts and integrative models of organism nutrition, the authors discuss the integration of two important conceptual frameworks; ecological stoichiometry (ES) and nutritional geometry (NG), which focus on questions in nutritional ecology to help understand energy and nutrient flows through ecosystems. Although these two classes of frameworks have been formulated using different goals and historical origins, could yield complementary predictions for similar phenomena. In this work, Sperfeld et al. 2017 discuss common grounds between ES and NG focusing on the central concept of “organismal homeostasis”, and dynamic energy budget models as a way to address homeostatic regulation linking these frameworks. The integration of ES and NG have great potential to mechanistically link the physiology of nutrition to ecosystem processes.

I am thrilled to join the team at Functional Ecology and hope to contribute to the continued success of this excellent journal.