Towards an integration of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning and food web theory to evaluate relationships between multiple ecosystem services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ecosystem responses to changes in species diversity are often studied individually. However, changes in species diversity can simultaneously influence multiple interdependent ecosystem functions. Therefore, an important challenge is to determine when and how changes in species diversity that influence one function will also drive changes in other functions. By providing the underlying structure of species interactions, ecological networks can quantify connections between biodiversity and multiple ecosystem functions. Here, we review parallels in the conceptual development of biodiversity- ecosystem functioning (BEF) and food web theory (FWT) research. Subsequently, we evaluate three common principles that unite these two research areas by explaining the patterns, concentrations, and direction of the flux of nutrients and energy through the species in diverse interaction webs. We give examples of combined BEF-FWT approaches that can be used to identify vulnerable species and habitats and to evaluate links that drive trade-offs between multiple ecosystems functions. These combined approaches reflect promising trends towards better management of biodiversity in landscapes that provide essential ecosystem services supporting human well-being.


  • Jes Hines
  • Wim H. van der Putten
  • Gerlinde B. De Deyn
  • Cameron Wagg
  • Winfried Voigt
  • Christian Mulder
  • Wolfgang W. Weisser
  • Jan Engel
  • Carlos Melian
  • Stefan Scheu
  • Klaus Birkhofer
  • Anne Ebeling
  • Christoph Scherber
  • Nico Eisenhauer
External organisations
  • Wageningen University
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
  • Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
  • University of Göttingen
  • University of Münster
  • Leipzig University
  • University of Zurich
  • Technical University of Munich
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences
  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-199
Number of pages39
JournalAdvances in Ecological Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch