Ph. D. University of Minnesota
W. K. Kellogg Biological Station
Michigan State University
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
Phone: (269) 671-671-2338
Fax: (269) 671-2351
Aquatic ecology; community ecology; trait-based ecology; phytoplankton ecology, physiology and evolution; microbial ecology, global change and harmful algal blooms
I am interested in how the interplay of biotic and abiotic factors structures phytoplankton and other microbial communities. Here are some of the current and recent research directions:
- Effects of Temporal and Spatial Heterogeneity on Phytoplankton Communities
We have been looking at how fluctuating resources such as light and nutrients affect competition and coexistence in phytoplankton. We are also interested in identifying and testing the mechanisms leading to heterogeneous vertical distributions of phytoplankton, such as subsurface chlorophyll maxima.
- Ecological Traits, Trade-offs and Community Structure
We seek to understand how ecological traits and trade-offs determine plankton community structure under different environmental conditions. Using laboratory experiments and data analysis, we characterize growth and resource utilization traits, trade-offs and ecological strategies of major phytoplankton functional groups from both freshwater and marine environments. We then use mechanistic models, including adaptive dynamics techniques, to explain and predict the occurrence and dominance of these phytoplankton groups, the evolution of observed trait distributions and trade-offs between key functional traits. We also test model predictions in laboratory experiments with phytoplankton communities.
- Broad Patterns in Plankton Diversity and Trait Distributions
We are interested in latitudinal and other large-scale patterns of phytoplankton diversity and distributions of key functional traits, such as cell size, resource utilization traits and thermal tolerances in marine and freshwater phytoplankton.
- Global Change and Harmful Algal Blooms
I have a keen interest in how different aspects of the human-induced global change will impact aquatic ecosystems, phytoplankton communities in particular. Using experiments, field observations and models we investigate how diverse global change stressors, such as increasing temperature and nutrient loading, may alter phytoplankton community structure and dynamics, e.g., increasing the frequency and severity of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). We also collaborate with engineers in developing robotic fish capable of autonomous monitoring of HABs.
- Invasive Microbes
We investigate the ecology of invasive, potentially toxic cyanobacteria, spreading into temperate latitudes from the tropics. We focus on determining the traits that make these cyanobacteria invasive and on community and ecosystem consequences of microbial invasions.
- Nitrogen-fixers in phytoplankton communities
Because N-fixers are important players in both freshwater and marine ecosystems, we need to understand what governs their distributions and dynamics. We use experiments, continental-scale data analyses and models to understand how absolute and relative levels of nutrients, light, temperature and other variables determine the abundance of N-fixers in phytoplankton communities and their interactions with the rest of phytoplankton.
- Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal in Siberia is the oldest and the most voluminous lake in the world, with an incredible diversity of endemic species. In collaboration with S. Hampton, M. Moore, L. Izmestyeva and E. Silow, we explore planktonic food web structure and dynamics, with an emphasis on interactions between endemic and cosmopolitan species and their responses to changing climate.
Wollrab S, L Izmest’eva, SE Hampton, EA Silow, E Litchman and CA Klausmeier. 2021. Climate change-driven regime shifts in a planktonic food web. American Naturalist. doi.org/10.1086/712813.
Guittar J, T Koffel, A Shade, CA Klausmeier and E Litchman. 2021. Resource competition and host feedbacks underlie regime shifts in gut microbiota. American Naturalist. doi.org/10.1086/714527.
Van De Waal D and E Litchman. 2020. Multiple global change stressor effects on phytoplankton nutrient acquisition in a future ocean. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 275: 20190706.
Aranguren-Gassis M, CT Kremer, CA Klausmeier and E Litchman. 2019. Nitrogen limitation inhibits marine diatom adaptation to high temperatures. Ecology Letters 22: 1860-1869.
Guittar J, A Shade and E Litchman. 2019. Trait-based succession and community assembly of the infant gut microbiome. Nature Communications 10: 512.
O’Donnell DR, E Johnson, C Hamman, CT Kremer, CA Klausmeier and E Litchman. 2018. Rapid thermal adaptation in a marine diatom reveals constraints and trade-offs. Global Change Biology 24: 4554-4565.
Edwards KF, CT Kremer, ET Miller, MM Osmond, E Litchman and CA Klausmeier. 2018. Evolutionarily stable communities: a framework for understanding the role of trait evolution in the maintenance of diversity. Ecology Letters 21: 1853-1868.
Thomas MK, M Aranguren-Gassis, CT Kremer, MR Gould, K Anderson, CA Klausmeier and E Litchman. 2017. Temperature-nutrient interactions exacerbate sensitivity to warming in phytoplankton. Global Change Biology 23: 3269–3280.
Safaie A, E Litchman and M.S. Phanikumar. 2017. Evaluating the role of groundwater in circulation and thermal structure of a deep inland lake. Advances in Water Resources 108: 310-327.
Ryan C, MK Thomas and E Litchman. 2017. The effects of phosphorus and temperature on the competitive success of an invasive cyanobacterium. Aquatic Ecology 51:463-472.
O’Donnell DR, P Wilburn, E Silow, LY Yampolsky and E Litchman. 2017. Nitrogen and phosphorus co-limitation of phytoplankton in Lake Baikal, Siberia: insights from the lake survey and nutrient enrichment experiments. Limnology and Oceanography 62: 1383–1392.
Edwards KF, MK Thomas, CA Klausmeier and E Litchman. 2016. Phytoplankton growth and the interaction of light and temperature: a synthesis at the species and community level. Limnology and Oceanography 61: 1232–1244.
Thomas MK, CT Kremer and E Litchman. 2016. Environment and evolutionary history determine the global biogeography of phytoplankton temperature traits. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25: 75-86.
Litchman E, KF Edwards and CA Klausmeier. 2015. Microbial resource utilization traits and trade-offs: implications for community structure, functioning and biogeochemical impacts at present and in the future. Frontiers in Microbiology 6: 254. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00254.
Edwards KF, E Litchman and CA Klausmeier. 2013. Functional traits explain phytoplankton community structure and seasonal dynamics in a marine ecosystem. Ecology Letters 16: 56-63.
Thomas MK, CT Kremer, CA Klausmeier and E Litchman. 2012. A global pattern of thermal adaptation in marine phytoplankton. Science 338: 1085-1088.
Litchman E. 2010. Invisible invaders: non-pathogenic invasive microbes in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters 13: 1560-1572.
Litchman, E., P. de Tezanos Pinto, C.A. Klausmeier, M.K. Thomas and K. Yoshiyama. 2010. Linking traits to species diversity and community structure in phytoplankton. Hydrobiologia 653: 15-38.
De Tezanos Pinto, P. and E. Litchman. 2010. Interactive effects of N:P ratios and light on nitrogen-fixer abundance. Oikos 119: 567-575.
Litchman, E., C.A. Klausmeier and K. Yoshiyama. 2009. Contrasting size evolution in marine and freshwater diatoms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 106: 2665-2670.
Litchman, E. and C.A. Klausmeier. 2008. Trait-based community ecology of phytoplankton. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 39: 615-639.
Litchman, E., C.A. Klausmeier, O.M. Schofield and P.G. Falkowski. 2007. The role of functional traits and trade-offs in structuring phytoplankton communities: scaling from cellular to ecosystem level. Ecology Letters 10: 1170-1181.
Litchman, E., C.A. Klausmeier, J.R. Miller, O.M. Schofield and P.G. Falkowski. 2006. Multi-nutrient, multi-group model of present and future oceanic phytoplankton communities. Biogeosciences 3: 585-606.
Klausmeier, C.A., E. Litchman, T. Daufresne and S.A. Levin. 2004. Optimal N:P stoichiometry of phytoplankton. Nature 429: 171-174.