Integrated freshwater nutrient biogeochemistry - Research strategy at IGB
Understanding the fate of nutrients in aquatic environments is key to the protection of our freshwater resources, and the associated scientific challenges are diverse. Though many specific transformations of elements are fundamentally investigated, our comprehensive understanding of the mutual interplay of the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in aquatic ecosystems is still sketchy. For example, the stoichiometry of C:N:P and molecular forms of nutrient N and P may hold better clues to transformative processes than inferred from element concentration data alone. Feedbacks with biological functions beyond microbial turnover, operating on a range of scales, are often poorly considered.
My seminar talk will revolve around projects that aim to integrate these aspects, and outline the overall research questions that I will tackle over the next years at IGB, including:
(1) How bioavailable and how relevant are „non-conventional“ forms of nutrients, for example organic-bound forms, in freshwater systems? What are analytical requirements to access these compounds?
(2) What novel isotope biosignatures that can be used to assess nutrient transformations and track fluxes across aquatic networks (such as the phosphate oxygen isotope signature)?
(3) Is there an overlooked impact of biota on element cycles in aquatic ecosystems, and do we need to put back „bio“ into biogeochemistry?