A generic framework for deriving process stoichiometry in environmental models

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Authors Peter Reichert, Nele Schuwirth
Journal/Conference Name Environmental Modelling and Software
Paper Category
Paper Abstract It has been recognized for many decades that the stoichiometry of biological reactions is important for linking ecological and biogeochemical processes. However, only during the past decade has the scientific community become aware that ''biological stoichiometry'' may also help bridge evolutionary biology and ecosystem ecology. This awareness led to increasing attention to biological process stoichiometry in ecology during the past decade. Despite this trend in ecological data analysis and interpretation, ecological models are still predominantly formulated without sufficient attention to process stoichiometry. To support scientists in formulating stoichiometry in process models based on elemental mass conservation, we transfer techniques from chemical process engineering to achieve the following objectives: (i) develop a generic mathematical framework to formulate and solve stoichiometric equations; (ii) facilitate the extension of currently used process stoichiometries to consider more elements (e.g. adding S and/or Si to C, H, O, N and P); (iii) identify the need for stoichiometric constraints of biogeochemical processes in addition to elemental mass balances; (iv) unify approaches to characterize organic matter by elemental mass fractions, organic carbon, or chemical oxygen demand; (v) provide a small package of functions for the statistics and graphics software R (http://www.r-project.org) to support environmental model building, and (vi) show how to incorporate automatic stoichiometric calculations into next generation environmental simulation software. The small R package ''stoichcalc'' can be downloaded from http://www.eawag.ch/^~reichert or from the package repository of the R project (http://www.r-project.org).
Date of publication 2010
Code Programming Language R

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