(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.
Citizen scientists sampled more than 600 freshwaters in Germany. This unique data set provides evidence of 3 trends: first, microorganisms in the sediment show signs of chemical stress and antibiotic resistance in their genetic material. Second, excessive artificial lighting at night alters the species composition of microorganisms. And third, all studied water bodies emit greenhouse gases.
The authors used a digital elevation model at 90m resolution and extracted the stream network, sub-catchments and drainage basins along with a suite of topographical and topological attributes. "Hydrography90m" provides a global, high-resolution and standardized dataset, emphasizing headwater streams, and can be used in spatial freshwater biodiversity analyses.
The authors assessed the invasion dynamics of the New Zealand mud snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum, one of the most damaging freshwater invaders. They observed that the snail abundance increased through time with 59% of populations following the proposed pattern, providing insights into large-scale invasion dynamics to inform management actions to mitigate impacts on ecosystems and economies.
From minute to day: ecophysiological response of phytoplankton to fluctuating light exposure during vertical mixing
The authors performed a cross-timescale investigation of a suite of physiological processes governing phytoplankton growth under fluctuating light exposure during vertical mixing: Respiration was enhanced in the short periods of low light following higher photosynthesis at the lake surface, indicating a tight connection between photosynthesis, respiration and biosynthesis under fluctuating light.
Heat waves rather than continuous warming exacerbate impacts of nutrient loading and herbicides on aquatic ecosystems
The authors used 48 mesocosms to test how nutrient loading, continuous warming, heat waves and glyphosate-based herbicides interactively impact the growth of submerged macrophytes, phytoplankton and periphyton. Heat waves facilitated phytoplankton growth under combined nutrient loading and glyphosate treatments more than continuous warming. Macrophyte biomass was lowest under these conditions.