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Featured Publications

Linking theory with empirical data: Improving prediction through mechanistic understanding of lake ecosystem complexity under global change
Adrian, R., Gsell, S.A., Shatwell, T., Scharfenberger U. (2022) Fundamental and Applied Limnology. doi: 10.1127/fal/2022/1457

Linking theory with data
Freshwater ecosystems are under multiple pressures, and we need a causal understanding to manage their effect. This is challenging because ecosystems are inherently complex. Yet, our available scientific tools have an intrinsic trade-off between the control and causal understanding they provide and the complexity they consider. In this article, we underline the importance of a close linkage between the different scientific tools and demonstrate in 6 case studies how combining theoretical, and data-driven approaches can facilitate complex system understanding. We recognise the need for large-scale studies to generalise our case study findings and the theories used therein.


A global synthesis of human impacts on the multifunctionality of streams and rivers

Brauns, M., Allen, D.C., Boëchat, I.G., Cross, W.F., Ferreira, V., Graeber, D., Patrick, C.J., Peipoch, M., von Schiller, D. & Gücker, B. (2022) Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.16210

Human impacts on the multifunctionality of streams
Human stressors have caused significant declines in the quality and quantity of freshwater resources, but effects on the multifunctionality of streams and rivers remain unclear. We used meta-analyses to quantify the responses of nutrient uptake, leaf litter decomposition, ecosystem productivity, and food web complexity to six human stressors. Stressors mostly inhibited ecosystem functioning, and nitrate uptake was most strongly affected. Wastewater effluents, agriculture, and urban land use had the strongest absolute effects on ecosystem multifunctionality. If such stressors persist in contemporary intensity, we will lose the functional backbone of streams and rivers and ecosystem services essential to humans.

Becoming nose-blind - Climate change impacts on chemical communication

Roggatz, C.C., Saha, M., Blanchard, S., Schirrmacher, P., Fink, P., Verheggen, F., Hardege, J.D. (2022) Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.16209

Becoming nose-blind
Chemical communication via infochemicals plays a pivotal role in ecological interactions, allowing organisms to sense their environment, locate predators, food, habitats, or mates. A growing number of studies suggest that climate change-associated stressors can modify these chemically mediated interactions, causing info-disruption that scales up to the ecosystem level. However, our understanding of the underlying mechanisms is scarce. This publication illustrates that climate change affects different realms in similar patterns, from molecular to ecosystem-wide levels. The importance of different stressors is assessed for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems and a systematic approach is proposed to address knowledge gaps and cross-disciplinary research avenues.

Lagrangian profiles of riverine autotrophy, organic matter transformation, and micropollutants at extreme drought

Kamjunke, N., Beckers, L.-M., Herzsprung, P., von Tümpling, W., Lechtenfeld, O., Tittel, J., Risse-Buhl, U., Rode, M., Wachholz, A., Kallies, R., Schulze, T., Krauss, M., Brack, W., Comero, S., Gawlik, B. M., Skejo, H., Tavazzi, S., Mariani, G., Borchardt, D., Weitere, M. (2022) Science of The Total Environment. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154243

Lagrangian profiles of Elbe at extreme drought
We investigated autotrophic processes, heterotrophic carbon utilization, and micropollutant concentrations applying a Lagrangian sampling design in a 600 km section of the River Elbe (Germany) at historically low discharge. Autotrophic and heterotrophic process rates and micropollutant concentrations increased from up- to downstream reaches, but their magnitudes were not distinctly different to conditions at medium discharges.

Large wood in river restoration: a case study on the effects on hydromorphology, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning

Anlanger, C., Attermeyer, K., Hille, S., Kamjunke, N., Koll, K., König, M., Schnauder, I., Tavares, C., Weitere, M., Brauns, M. (2021) Hydrobiology. doi: 10.1002/iroh.202102089

Large wood in river restoration
We quantified the hydromorphological, biological, and functional effects of large wood installed in a large gravel-bed river. Our integrative approach revealed cascading effects from the provisioning of new habitats, the increase of species diversity to higher ecosystem functioning. It also demonstrated that hydromorphological parameters or community composition alone are insufficient to quantify the complex effects of large wood.

Hydraulic and biological controls of biofilm nitrogen uptake in gravel-bed streams

Anlanger, C., Risse-Buhl, U., von Schiller, D., Noss, C., Weitere, M., Lorke, A. (2021) Limnology and Oeanography. doi: 10.1002/lno.11927

Controls of biofilm nitrogen uptake
We analyzed the relative importance of hydraulic and biological controls on biofilm nitrogen uptake in gravel-bed streams. Sixty-four percent of the within-stream variability in nitrogen uptake velocity was explained by the turbulent dissipation rate and the biofilm biomass. Our results improved the mechanistic understanding of the processes regulating biofilm nitrogen uptake at small scale which supports upscaling to larger spatiotemporal scales along stream networks.

High irradiation and low discharge promote the dominant role of phytoplankton in riverine nutrient dynamics

Kamjunke, N., Rode, M., Baborowski, M., Kunz, J.V., Zehner, J., Borchardt, D., Weitere, M. (2021) Limnology and Oceanography. doi: 10.1002/lno.11778

Riverine nutrient dynamics dominated by phytoplankton
In Lagrangian samplings we observed a longitudinal increase of phytoplankton biomass, a decrease of dissolved nutrient concentrations, and high rates of nitrate assimilation at low discharge in summer. Rising molar C:P ratios of seston indicated a phosphorus limitation of phytoplankton. Global radiation combined with mixing depth had a strong predictive power to explain maximum chlorophyll concentration.

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