(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

November 2023
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London : Ser. B, Biological Sciences. - 378(2023)1892, Art. 20220360

Light pollution of freshwater ecosystems: principles, ecological impacts and remedies

Franz Hölker; Andreas Jechow; Sibylle Schroer; Klement Tockner; Mark O. Gessner

Freshwater ecosystems across the world are biodiversity hotspots but also disproportionately threatened by light pollution. In this review the authors provide a synthesis of current knowledge on light characteristics and the ecological consequences of artificial light in inland waters and coupled adjacent ecosystems. The focus is on recent insights into effects and on ways to mitigate them.

September 2023
Biological Reviews. - 98(2023)5, 1530-1547

Hypotheses in urban ecology: building acommon knowledge base

Sophie Lokatis; Jonathan M. Jeschke; Maud Bernard-Verdier; Sascha Buchholz; Hans-Peter Grossart; Frank Havemann; Franz Hölker; Yuval Itescu; Ingo Kowarik; Stephanie Kramer-Schadt; Daniel Mietchen; Camille L. Musseau; Aimara Planillo; Conrad Schittko; Tanja M. Straka; Tina Heger

This study identified 62 research hypotheses used in urban ecology and mapped them in a conceptual network. It is the first such network, which also clusters urban ecology hypotheses into four distinct themes: (i) Urban species traits & evolution, (ii) Urban biotic communities, (iii) Urban habitats and (iv) Urban ecosystems.

September 2023
Nature. - 620(2023), S. 582–588

The recovery of European freshwater biodiversity has come to a halt

Peter Haase; Diana E. Bowler; Nathan J. Baker; Núria Bonada; Sami Domisch; Jaime R. Garcia Marquez; Jani Heino; Daniel Hering; Sonja C. Jähnig; Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber; Rachel Stubbington; Florian Altermatt; Mario Álvarez-Cabria; Giuseppe Amatulli; David G. Angeler; Gaït Archambaud-Suard; Iñaki Arrate Jorrín; Thomas Aspin; Iker Azpiroz; Iñaki Bañares; José Barquín Ortiz; Christian L. Bodin; Luca Bonacina; Roberta Bottarin; Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles; Zoltán Csabai; Thibault Datry; Elvira de Eyto; Alain Dohet; Gerald Dörflinger; Emma Drohan; Knut A. Eikland; Judy England; Tor E. Eriksen; Vesela Evtimova; Maria J. Feio; Martial Ferréol; Mathieu Floury; Maxence Forcellini; Marie Anne Eurie Forio; Riccardo Fornaroli; Nikolai Friberg; Jean-François Fruget; Galia Georgieva; Peter Goethals; Manuel A. S. Graça; Wolfram Graf; Andy House; Kaisa-Leena Huttunen; Thomas C. Jensen; Richard K. Johnson; J. Iwan Jones; Jens Kiesel; Lenka Kuglerová; Aitor Larrañaga; Patrick Leitner; Lionel L’Hoste; Marie-Helène Lizée; Armin W. Lorenz; Anthony Maire; Jesús Alberto Manzanos Arnaiz; Brendan G. McKie; Andrés Millán; Don Monteith; Timo Muotka; John F. Murphy; Davis Ozolins; Riku Paavola; Petr Paril; Francisco J. Peñas; Francesca Pilotto; Marek Polášek; Jes Jessen Rasmussen; Manu Rubio; David Sánchez-Fernández; Leonard Sandin; Ralf B. Schäfer; Alberto Scotti; Longzhu Q. Shen; Agnija Skuja; Stefan Stoll; Michal Straka; Henn Timm; Violeta G. Tyufekchieva; Iakovos Tziortzis; Yordan Uzunov; Gea H. van der Lee; Rudy Vannevel; Emilia Varadinova; Gábor Várbíró; Gaute Velle; Piet F. M. Verdonschot; Ralf C. M. Verdonschot; Yanka Vidinova; Peter Wiberg-Larsen; Ellen A. R. Welti

The comprehensive study shows that between 1968 and 2010, biodiversity in river systems in 22 European countries initially recovered due to improved water quality. Since 2010, however, biodiversity has stagnated; many river systems have not fully recovered. The researchers therefore urgently recommend additional measures to further promote the recovery of biodiversity in inland waters. 

May 2023
Journal of Environmental Management. - 325(2023), Art. 116442

Short-term effects of macrophyte removal on aquatic biodiversity in rivers and lakes

Benjamin Misteli; Alexandrine Pannard; Eirin Aasland; Sarah Faye Harpenslager; Samuel Motitsoe; Kirstine Thiemer; Stéphanie Llopis; Julie Coetzee; Sabine Hilt; Jan Köhler; Susanne C. Schneider; Christophe Piscart; Gabrielle Thiébaut

Study of the effects of macrophyte removal on phytoplankton, zooplankton and macroinvertebrates at five sites with highly variable characteristics repeating the same Before-After-Control-Impact design to disentangle general from site-specific effects. Macrophyte removal had negative effects on biodiversity, esp. on zooplankton and macroinvertebrates. It had positive effects on phytoplankton.

April 2023
Scientific Data. - 10(2023) Art. 169

A database of freshwater macroinvertebrate occurrence records across Cuba

Yusdiel torres-Cambas; Yoandri S. Megna; Juan Carlos Salazar-Salina; Yander L. Diez; alejandro Catalá; Adrian D. trapero-Quintana; Boris Schröder; Sami Domisch

the researchers have set up a database with geo-referenced occurrence records of four groups of freshwater invertebrate taxa across Cuba. Detailed knowledge of the spatial distribution of freshwater species is an important basis for monitoring changes in aquatic ecosystems.

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