The great nutrient collapse
Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton. Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the world’s oceans and lakes, and for food they rely on algae, which are essentially tiny plants. Scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them—increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn’t work out that way. Loladze was technically in the math department, but he loved biology and couldn’t stop thinking about this. Loladze used his math training to help measure and explain the algae-zooplankton dynamic.
Related: Effetto risorse & collaterals
• Climate change & affects on flora & fauna
• A Planet Fed & Watered