(Dept. 2) Community and Ecosystem Ecology

Inland waters support exceptional biodiversity, are characterised by intense metabolism of matter, and provide important ecosystem services. However, freshwater ecosystems face high and increasing pressures from multiple stressors. The Department of Community and Ecosystem Ecology conducts research in both standing and running waters studying the response of freshwater communities and ecosystems to global change. Ultimately, we aim to advance our mechanistic understanding of the structure and functioning of inland waters as a basis for their sustainable management. Specifically, we focus on:

  • Response of freshwater communities and diversity to changing environments
  • Interactions between freshwater communities, their environment and ecosystem functioning
  • Spatial and temporal freshwater biodiversity patterns
  • Sustainable management of freshwater communities and ecosystems

We develop and analyse the long-term monitoring data of Lake Müggelsee and Spree as well as from other inland waters and their catchments, employ spatially explicit statistical and deterministic modelling approaches, and conduct lab and field experiments. Our department additionally encompasses research on the global effects of climate change and biodiversity and develops new theoretical concepts on that.

Contact persons

Sonja Jähnig

Head of Department
Research group
Aquatic Ecogeography

Department members

Selected publications

March 2024
Nature Climate Change. - XX(2024), XX-XX

Flexible foraging behaviour increases predator vulnerability to climate change

Benoit Gauzens; Benjamin Rosenbaum; Gregor Kalinkat; Thomas Boy; Malte Jochum; Susanne Kortsch; Eoin J. O’Gorman; Ulrich Brose

Based on a combination of (historical) empirical data and model simulations the authors investigated how size-selective adaptive behaviour under warmer conditions in demersal marine fishes might affect their long-term population stability. Under warmer conditions the fish species studied tend to consume less efficiently by choosing smaller and more abundant prey increasing their extinction risk.

March 2024
Scientific Data. - 11(2024) Art. 236

Quantitative description of six fish species’ gut contents and prey abundances in the Baltic Sea (1968–1978)

Benoit Gauzens; Gregor Kalinkat; Ana Carolina Antunes; Thomas Boy; Eoin J. O’Gorman; Ute Jacob; Malte Jochum; Susanne Kortsch; Benjamin Rosenbaum; Ludmilla Figueiredo; Ulrich Brose

This data paper presents a multi-year database containing information about diets and traits for demersal fish species from the Western Baltic Sea, as well as on resource abundances and environmental conditions. These historical data are unique as they provide detailed descriptions of quantitative and trait-based consumer-resource interactions enabling various ways of innovative food-web analyses.

February 2024
WIREs Water. - X(2024)X, Art. e1717

Reviving Europe's rivers: Seven challenges in the implementation of the Nature Restoration Law to restore free-flowing rivers

Twan Stoffers; Florian Altermatt; Damiano Baldan; Olena Bilous; Florian Borgwardt; Anthonie D. Buijse; Elisabeth Bondar-Kunze; Nuria Cid; Tibor Erős; Maria Teresa Ferreira; Andrea Funk; Gertrud Haidvogl; Severin Hohensinner; Johannes Kowal; Leopold A. J. Nagelkerke; Jakob Neuburg; Tianna Peller; Stefan Schmutz; Gabriel A. Singer; Günther Unfer; Simon Vitecek; Sonja C. Jähnig; Thomas Hein

The authors identified potential challenges and ambiguities in the EU-NRL for restoring free-flowing rivers. They propose clear definitions of critical terms and the development of integrated assessment methods for prioritising actions to improve river connectivity as novel solutions to these challenges, contributing to the success of habitat restoration and biodiversity protection.

Diversity and Distributions
January 2024
Diversity and Distributions. - XX(2024)XX, XX

Three hundred years of past and future changes for native fish species in the upper Danube River Basin—Historical flow alterations versus future climate change

Martin Friedrichs-Manthey; Simone D. Langhans; Florian Borgwardt; Thomas Hein; Harald Kling; Philipp Stanzel; Sonja C. Jähnig; Sami Domisch

The authors show that fish have been particularly sensitive to changes in flow regimes in the past, while higher temperatures will pose the greatest threat in the future. The threat assessment will remain at least as high in the future. However, it could probably be mitigated by reconnecting former floodplains and improving river connectivity. 

November 2023
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London : Ser. B, Biological Sciences. - 378(2023)1892, Art. 20220356

A framework for untangling the consequences of artificial light at night on species interactions

Brett Seymoure; Anthony Dell; Franz Hölker; Gregor Kalinkat

By altering essential environmental cues Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) is restructuring if, how and when animals interact. In this publication the authors explored the role of ALAN on ecological interactions and reviewed research studies that addressed this issue, most of whom were just published during the last three to five years.

Share page