Elena Litchman

Elena Litchman
Michigan State University | MSU · Integrative Biology

PhD

About

147
Publications
47,381
Reads
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9,997
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2011 - July 2012
Technical University of Denmark
Position
  • sabbatical visitor
August 2005 - present
Michigan State University
Position
  • Professor
January 2003 - June 2005
Georgia Institute of Technology
Position
  • Researcher

Publications

Publications (147)
Preprint
Full-text available
Species-abundance distributions (SADs) describe the spectrum of commonness and rarity in a community. Beyond the universal observation that most species are rare and only a few common, more-precise description of SAD shape is controversial. Furthermore, the mechanisms behind SADs and how they vary along environmental gradients remain unresolved. We...
Preprint
Warming, the most prominent aspect of global environmental change, already affects most ecosystems on Earth. In recent years, biologists have increasingly integrated the effects of warming into their models by capturing how temperature shapes their physiology, ecology, behavior, evolutionary adaptation, and probability of extirpation/extinction. Th...
Article
Full-text available
A complex interplay of environmental variables impacts phytoplankton community composition and physiology. Temperature and nutrient availability are two principal factors driving phytoplankton growth and composition, but are often investigated independently and on individual species in the laboratory. To assess the individual and interactive effect...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
Phytoplankton are key players in global biogeochemical cycles, and the effects of ocean warming on their carbon–nitrogen–phosphorus (CNP) stoichiometry, photosynthesis, size, morphology, growth rates, and other traits are of great ecological consequence. The physiological mechanisms of adaptation to temperature in phytoplankton are poorly understoo...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing consensus that traits offer a powerful way to examine the relationship between the environment, organismal strategies, species interactions, and ecological success. To date, trait‐based research has largely been focusing on individual trophic levels and not on cross‐level interactions. Looking at traits not only within but across...
Article
Full-text available
As groundwater depletion becomes a global phenomenon, inland lake ecosystems are being impacted by decreasing groundwater supply. While the current trend of rapid surface warming of inland lakes continues, the deep waters can resist changes, depending on the nature of surface water — groundwater interactions. However, the effects of these interacti...
Article
Despite increasing interest in winter limnology, few studies have examined under-ice zooplankton communities and the factors shaping them in different types of temperate lakes. To better understand drivers of zooplankton community structure in winter and summer, we sampled 13 lakes across a large trophic status gradient for crustacean zooplankton a...
Research
Each year, ASLO honors aquatic scientists of various career stages for their exceptional work in advancing the fields of limnology and oceanography. The announcement and full citations for each of the 2021 awardees can be found at http://bit. ly/2021ASLOAwards. This year, the winners will be presented with their awards virtually at the 2021 Aquatic...
Article
Body size is an important trait of any organism, including phytoplankton, because it affects physiological and morphological performance, reproduction, population growth rate and competitive interactions. Understanding how interacting top-down and bottom-up factors influence phytoplankton cell size in different aquatic environments is still a chall...
Article
Full-text available
Size and shape profoundly influence an organism’s ecophysiological performance and evolutionary fitness, suggesting a link between morphology and diversity. However, not much is known about how body shape is related to taxonomic richness, especially in microbes. Here we analyse global datasets of unicellular marine phytoplankton, a major group of p...
Article
The spread of an enteric pathogen in the human gut depends on many interacting factors, including pathogen exposure, diet, host gut environment, and host microbiota, but how these factors jointly influence infection outcomes remains poorly characterized. Here, we develop a model of host-mediated resource-competition between mutualistic and pathogen...
Article
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Among bacteria and archaea, maximum relative growth rate, cell diameter, and genome size are widely regarded as important influences on ecological strategy. Via the most extensive data compilation so far for these traits across all clades and habitats, we ask whether they are correlated and if so how. Overall, we found little correlation among them...
Article
Environments change, for both natural and anthropogenic reasons, which can threaten species persistence. Evolutionary adaptation is a potentially powerful mechanism to allow species to persist in these changing environments. To determine the conditions under which adaptation will prevent extinction (evolutionary rescue), classic quantitative geneti...
Article
Environments change, for both natural and anthropogenic reasons, which can threaten species persistence. Evolutionary adaptation is a potentially powerful mechanism to allow species to persist in these changing environments. To determine the conditions under which adaptation will prevent extinction (evolutionary rescue), classic quantitative geneti...
Article
Predicting how food webs will respond to global environmental change is difficult because of the complex interplay between the abiotic forcing and biotic interactions. Mechanistic models of species interactions in seasonal environments can help understand the effects of global change in different ecosystems. Seasonally ice-covered lakes are warming...
Article
Environmental factors that interact with increasing temperature under the ongoing global warming are an urgent issue determining marine phytoplankton’s performance. Previous studies showed that nutrient limitation alters phytoplankton responses to temperature and may lower their temperature optima (Topt), making them more susceptible to high temper...
Preprint
Full-text available
The extent and ecological significance of intraspecific diversity within marine microbial populations is still poorly understood, and it remains unclear if such strain-level microdiversity will affect fitness and persistence in a rapidly changing ocean environment. In this study, we cultured 11 sympatric strains of the ubiquitous marine picocyanoba...
Article
Full-text available
A synthesis of phenotypic and quantitative genomic traits is provided for bacteria and archaea, in the form of a scripted, reproducible workflow that standardizes and merges 26 sources. The resulting unified dataset covers 14 phenotypic traits, 5 quantitative genomic traits, and 4 environmental characteristics for approximately 170,000 strain-level...
Article
Predicting the effects of multiple global change stressors on microbial communities remains a challenge because of the complex interactions among those factors. Here, we explore the combined effects of major global change stressors on nutrient acquisition traits in marine phytoplankton. Nutrient limitation constrains phytoplankton production in lar...
Preprint
Full-text available
Organisms' size and shape have a profound influence on ecophysiological performance and evolutionary fitness, suggesting a link between morphology and diversity. While unimodal relationships between size and species richness were found for many taxa(1-4), much less is known on how richness is related to shape, in particular in the microbial realm....
Article
Current algal biomass research still focuses mainly on identifying and growing monocultures that produce high amounts of lipids or other target compounds. However, monocultures might have a lower efficiency of utilizing resources, due to their limited physiological resource use possibilities, compared to algal polycultures. Recent studies showed th...
Article
Full-text available
Ongoing climate change is shifting species distributions and increasing extinction risks globally. It is generally thought that large population sizes and short generation times of marine phytoplankton may allow them to adapt rapidly to global change, including warming, thus limiting losses of biodiversity and ecosystem function. Here, we show that...
Article
Full-text available
Temperature effects on the fatty acid (FA) profiles of phytoplankton, major primary producers in the ocean, have been widely studied due to their importance as industrial feedstocks and to their indispensable role as global producers of long‐chain, polyunsaturated FA (PUFA), including omega‐3 (ω3) FA required by organisms at higher trophic levels....
Preprint
Full-text available
Understanding how microbial communities respond to environmental change requires knowledge of the main drivers of their community structure, diversity and potential resilience. For many rapidly changing ecosystems this information is still not available. Lake Baikal in Siberia is the most ancient, deep, voluminous, and biologically diverse lake in...
Article
Full-text available
The human gut microbiome develops over early childhood and aids in food digestion and immunomodulation, but the mechanisms driving its development remain elusive. Here we use data curated from literature and online repositories to examine trait-based patterns of gut microbiome succession in 56 infants over their first three years of life. We also d...
Article
Mass cultivation of algae for biofuel and other bioproduct production in outdoor, open raceway ponds has some considerable economic advantages. However, these systems would be subject to fluctuations in temperature (among other environmental factors), which can have dramatic effects on the growth rates of algal species and impact the overall produc...
Article
Biological diversity depends on the interplay between evolutionary diversification and ecological mechanisms allowing species to coexist. Current research increasingly integrates ecology and evolution over a range of timescales, but our common conceptual framework for understanding species coexistence requires better incorporation of evolutionary p...
Article
Rapid evolution in response to environmental change will likely be a driving force determining the distribution of species across the biosphere in coming decades. This is especially true of microorganisms, many of which may evolve in step with warming, including phytoplankton, the diverse photosynthetic microbes forming the foundation of most aquat...
Article
Full-text available
Rising lake temperatures and changing nutrient inputs are believed to favour the spread of a toxic invasive cyanobacterium, Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii (Woloszynska) Seenayya & Subba Raju, in temperate lakes. However, most evidence for these hypotheses are observational or based on physiological measurements in monocultures. We lack clear experi...
Article
Groundwater levels in many aquifers are declining due to anthropogenic activities such as increased high-capacity pumping for agriculture or climate-related decreases in natural recharge rates or a combination of factors. At the same time, lake surface temperatures are on the rise in response to a warming climate. As a first step toward evaluating...
Preprint
Full-text available
Rapid evolution in response to environmental change will likely be a driving force determining the distribution of species and the structure of communities across the biosphere in coming decades. This is especially true of microorganisms, many of which may be able to evolve in step with rising temperatures. An ecologically indispensable group of mi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Mathematical frameworks such as the Adaptive Dynamics theory 1,2 (AD) have been developed to describe evolution of phenotypic traits in a specific eco-evolutionary context but cannot account for trait innovations. Contrarily, Systems Biology genome-scale metabolic modeling allows a mechanistic derivation of phenotypic traits. The Dynamic Reduction...
Article
Full-text available
Temperature and nutrients are fundamental, highly nonlinear drivers of biological processes, but we know little about how they interact to influence growth. This has hampered attempts to model population growth and competition in dynamic environments, which is critical in forecasting species distributions, as well as the diversity and productivity...
Article
Full-text available
Quantifying how environmental factors control the growth of phytoplankton communities is essential for building a mechanistic understanding of global biogeochemical cycles and aquatic food web dynamics. The strong effects of temperature on population growth rate have inspired two frameworks—the Eppley curve and the metabolic theory of ecology—that...
Article
Full-text available
The theories developed in ecological stoichiometry are fundamentally based on traits. On the one hand, traits directly linked to cell/body stoichiometry, such as nutrient uptake and storage traits, as well as the associated trade-offs, have the potential to shape ecological interactions such as competition and predation within ecosystems. On the ot...
Article
In the context of maintenance of biodiversity and ecological functions, microbial ecologists face the challenge of linking individual level variability in functional traits to larger scale ecosystem processes. Phytoplankton cell size and shape are key traits under selection by environmental filters and species interactions. Spatial differences in r...
Article
Lake Baikal, Siberia, is the most biodiverse freshwater lake on Earth. However, despite decades of painstaking limnological research on Baikal, broad spatial data on nutrient (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), silica (Si)) concentrations and temperature are sparse, as is our understanding of the bottom-up factors that limit phytoplankton in the lake. E...
Article
Dolichospermum flos-aquae and Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii are two cyanobacteria species which cause harmful blooms around the world. Both these species share the capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen in heterocytes (cell where fixation occurs). While Dolichospermum can express heterocytes at rather regular intervals across the filament, Cylindros...
Article
Full-text available
Numerous studies show that increasing species richness leads to higher ecosystem productivity. This effect is often attributed to more efficient portioning of multiple resources in communities with higher numbers of competing species, indicating the role of resource supply and stoichiometry for biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships. Here...
Article
Full-text available
Temperature strongly affects phytoplankton growth rates, but its effect on communities and ecosystem processes is debated. Because phytoplankton are often limited by light, temperature should change community structure if it affects the traits that determine competition for light. Furthermore, the aggregate response of phytoplankton communities to...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: Ecological and evolutionary forces shape the functional traits of species within and across environments, generating biogeographical patterns in traits. We aimed to: (1) determine the extent to which temperature traits of phytoplankton are adapted to their local environment, and (2) detect and explain differences in patterns of adaptation bet...
Article
Full-text available
Marine phytoplankton are a taxonomically and functionally diverse group of organisms that are key players in the most important biogeochemical cycles. Phytoplankton taxa show different resource utilization strategies (e.g. nutrient-uptake rates and cellular allocation) and traits. Therefore, acknowledging this diversity is crucial to understanding...
Article
Full-text available
1. Phytoplankton are key players in the global carbon cycle, contributing about half of global primary productivity. Within the phytoplankton, functional groups (characterized by distinct traits) have impacts on other major biogeochemical cycles, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and silica. Changes in phytoplankton community structure, resulting from t...
Article
Full-text available
Rising temperatures are expected to favour the growth of bloom-forming cyanobacteria in temperate lakes, but may also change the composition of cyanobacterial communities. To predict future community and bloom dynamics, it is therefore important to understand how bloom-forming species respond to temperature. Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii (Woloszyn...
Article
Full-text available
Gliding robotic fish, which is a hybrid of underwater gliders and robotic fish, is energy efficient and highly maneuverable and holds strong promise for long-duration monitoring of underwater environments. In this paper, a novel scheme is proposed for autonomously sampling multiple water columns using gliding robotic fish. The scheme exploits energ...
Article
This paper presents a compilation of nutrient utilization traits of marine and freshwater phytoplankton. The literature was comprehensively searched for culture experiments using nitrate, ammonium, or phosphate as the limiting nutrient. The following traits were extracted: the response of growth to nutrient supply (maximum growth rate under unlimit...
Article
Gliding robotic fish, a hybrid of underwater gliders and robotic fish, are energy-efficient and highly maneuverable, and hold strong promise for long-duration sampling of underwater environments. In this paper a novel systematic autonomous water-column-based sampling scheme for gliding robotic fish is proposed to measure the three-dimensional spati...
Article
Full-text available
Trait-based approaches provide a mechanistic framework to understand and predict the structure and functioning of microbial communities. Resource utilization traits and trade-offs are among key microbial traits that describe population dynamics and competition among microbes. Several important trade-offs have been identified for prokaryotic and euk...
Article
Full-text available
Light-dependent growth of phytoplankton is a fundamental process in marine ecosystems, but we lack a comprehensive view of how light utilization traits vary across genotypes and species, and how this variation is structured by cell size, taxonomy, and environmental gradients. Here, we compile 308 growth-irradiance experiments performed on 119 speci...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Functional traits vary across broad spatial gradients, reflecting a combination of adaptation to local conditions, species interactions, and both ecological and evolutionary constraints. Characterizing worldwide patterns in these traits can therefore reveal signals of historical selection, as well as the factors constr...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Temperature and light are primary controls of autotroph physiology, population growth, community structure, and ecosystem function. For the phytoplankton that dominate production in pelagic systems, we have a poor understanding of how temperature modulates the effects of light limitation, and how light limitation alter...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Phytoplankton are key players in the global carbon cycle, contributing about half of global primary productivity. Phytoplankton functional groups have distinct impacts on other major biogeochemical cycles, such as nitrogen, silica and phosphorus. Consequently, changes in phytoplankton community structure may significan...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Understanding the mechanisms of coexistence, diversity and invasibility in communities are among the major goals of ecology. Species assemblages are based, in part, on the traits of species relative to environmental factors (nutrients, temperature, light). Community susceptibility to invasions may depend not only on th...
Article
Full-text available
Although open outdoor pond systems are the most economically viable option for mass cultivation of algae as a biofuel source, such systems face a number of limitations. Open ponds experience environmental fluctuations (i.e., light levels, nutrient ratios, and temperature), invasion pressure by undesired algal species, pathogen infections, and herbi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Aquatic ecosystems and processes exhibit a high degree of spatial and temporal heterogeneity, which presents significant challenges for their monitoring. In this paper we report a novel underwater robot, called gliding robotic fish, as an emerging platform for mobile sensing in aquatic environments that can potentially provide high spatiotemporal c...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract The resources that organisms depend on often fluctuate over time, and a variety of common traits are thought to be adaptations to variable resource supply. To understand the trait structure of communities, it is necessary to understand the functional trade-offs that determine what trait combinations are possible and which species can persi...
Article
Full-text available
Progress in microbiology has always been driven by technological advances, ever since Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovered bacteria by making an improved compound microscope. Yet until very recently, we have not been able to identify microbes and record their mostly invisible activities such as nutrient consumption or toxin production on the level of...