Biodiversity Effects on Aquatic Ecosystem Functioning – Maturation of a New Paradigm



Starting with the publication of some influential studies in the early 1990's, the topic of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has emerged as a major field within ecological research. Within this framework, the diversity of genotypes, species and functional groups are considered as explanatory variables of ecosystem functions rather than response variables of factors such as productivity and disturbance. Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research has received considerable attention, and new publications are emerging at a high pace. Both the validity of experimental approaches and the way the results may be extrapolated to natural systems have, however, been widely discussed. The width of the debate regarding whether or not biodiversity is important for ecosystem functioning have encouraged many scientists to refine both experiments and theory, as well as develop novel methods to analyse the relationship between diversity and functioning. Aquatic ecologists have contributed greatly to the evolution of ideas and concepts within the field. In this review, we discuss how the paradigm that biodiversity is an important factor for the functioning of aquatic ecosystems is currently maturing with more realistic studies embracing both new and innovative approaches. We also suggest fruitful areas for future research.

Each of us is trapped in a place, a time, and a circumstance, and our attempts to use our minds to transcend those boundaries are, more often than not, ineffective.

From the book “Stumbling on happiness” by Daniel Gilbert (© 2008 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)