Lateral flows across landscape patches generate patterns in nutrient stocks and cycling rates at microbial to global scales that are not predictable from vertical or internal fluxes alone. When not accounted for, these flows can lead to surprises at higher levels of organization. In the Anthropocene, changes in lateral nutrient flows are increasing in magnitude, variability, and length scales and are increasingly governed by changes in landscape structure. Here, I propose a framework of ʼnutrient geography’ that can be used to understand these impacts and integrate their dynamics. This framework is rooted in an attention to scale and the agents, human and non-human, that regulate nutrient flows. Frontiers in this new nutrient geography framework include (1) the estimation of thresholds between landscape structure and nutrient flow paths, (2) an understanding of when black box approaches to nutrient cycling fail due to emergent behaviors caused by lateral or cross-scalar nutrient flows, and (3) the exploration of how human and non-human social networks of nutrient exchange influence nutrient availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Landscape Ecology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429679681
ISBN (Print)9780367024567
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Social Sciences


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