Research Group Biodiversity


The research group Biodiversity aims to understand the regulation of biodiversity and the role of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning. In particular we address the questions if and how climate change alters competitive and trophic interactions among coexisting species and if and how this affects ecosystem functioning. Our experimental model systems comprise phytoplankton and benthic macro- and microalgae including their associated consumers. Using these we investigate the direct and indirect effects of climate change in near natural communities and/ or over longer time scales capturing multiple generations. With this approach we seek to gain mechanistic understanding about climate change effects on marine ecosystems and realistic understanding of future ecosystem resilience.


Former Team Members

  • Lena Eggers
  • Sebastian Krug
  • Leona Schulze
  • Helen Moor
  • Erik Mielke


  • Eco-evolutionary coupling in competing marine phytoplankton communities (within DFG Priority Program 1704 Dynatrait). With: Thorsten Reusch, Giannina Hattich and Luisa Listmann.
  • BIOACID III, Theme 2: Shifts in benthic ecosystems and their services. WP2,2 Quantifying the relative importance of direct and indirect effects of increasing CO2 and temperature on the functioning of benthic and pelagic primary producers. With: Franziska Werner and Helmut Hillebrand.
  • BOACID II: Responses of benthic assemblages to interactive stress. WP 2.3 Re-structuring and re-functioning of microphyte-dominated biofilms on macrophytes. Funded by BMBF. With: Martin Wahl, Franziska Werner.
  • The relation between biodiversity and resilience in source-sink metacommunities. Funded by NWO. With: Klemens Eriksson, University of Groningen, The Netherlands (abgeschlossen).


  1. Engel F G, Matthiessen B, Eriksson B K (in press) A heatwave increases turnover and regional dominance in microbenthic metacommunities. Basic and Applied Ecology;
  2. Wahl M, Werner F J, Buchholz B, Raddatz S, Graiff A , Matthiessen B, Karsten U, Hiebenthal C, Hamer J, Ito M, Gülzow E, Rilov G, Guy-Haim T (2019) Season affects strength and direction of the interactive impacts of ocean warming and biotic stress in a coastal seaweed ecosystem. Limnology and Oceanography. 9999, 2019, 1–21; doi: 10.1002/lno.11350
  3. Charalampous E, Matthiessen B, Sommer U (2018) Light effects on phytoplankton morphometric traits influence nutrient utilization ability. Journal of Plankton Research;
  4. Matthiessen B, Werner F J & Paulsen M (2018). Ecological Organization of the Sea. In: Handbook on Marine Environment Protection. Science, Impacts and Sustainable Management (eds. Salomon, M & Markus, T). Springer International Publishing, pp. 37-66
  5. Engel F G, Lewandowska A M, Eggers S L, Matthiessen B (2017) Manipulation of Non-random Species Loss in Natural Phytoplankton: Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluation of Different Approaches. Frontiers in Marine Science 4;
  6. Engel F G, Alegria J, Andriana R, Donadi S, Joao B. Gusmao J B, van Leeuwe M A, Matthiessen B, Eriksson B K (2017) Mussel beds are biological power stations on intertidal flats. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 191: 21-27;
  7. Werner F J, Matthiessen B (2017) Warming has stronger direct than indirect effects on benthic microalgae in a seaweed system in spring. Marine Biology 164: 67; doi:10.1007/s00227-017-3109-x
  8. Hattich G S I, Listmann L, Raab J, Ozod-Seradj D, Reusch T B H, Matthiessen B (2017) Inter- and intra-specific phenotypic plasticity of three phytoplankton species in response to ocean acidification. Biology Letters 13: 20160774.
  9. Gruner D, Bracken M, Berger S, Eriksson B K, Gamfeldt L, Matthiessen B, Moorthi S, Sommer U, Hillebrand H (2017) Effects of experimental warming on biodiversity depend on ecosystem type and local species composition. Oikos 126: 8-17; doi: 10.1111/oik.03688
  10. Werner F J, Graiff A, Matthiessen B (2016) Even moderate nutrient enrichment negatively adds up to global climate change effects on a habitat-forming seaweed system. Limnology and Oceanography;
  11. Paul C, Sommer U, Garzke J, Moustaka-Gouni M, Paul A, Matthiessen B (2016) Effects of increased CO2 concentration on nutrient limited coastal summer plankton depend on temperature. Limnology and Oceanography; doi: 101002/lno.10256
  12. Werner F J, Graiff A, Matthiessen B (2016) Temperature effects on seaweed-sustaining top-down control vary with season. Oecologia 180: 889-901; doi:10.​1007/​s00442-015-3489-x
  13. Paul C, Matthiessen B, Sommer U (2015) Warming, but not enhanced CO2 concentration, quantitatively and qualitatively affects phytoplankton biomass. Marine Ecology Progress Series 528: 39-51; doi: 10.3354/meps11264
  14. de Boer K M, Moor H, Matthiessen B, Hillebrand H and Eriksson B K (2014) Dispersal restricts local biomass but promotes the recovery of metacommunities after temperature stress. Oikos 123: 762-768; doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00927.x
  15. Lewandowska A M, Boyce D G, Hofmann M, Matthiessen B, Sommer U, Worm B (2014) Effects of sea surface warming on marine plankton. Ecology Letters 17: 614-623; doi: 10.1111/ele.12265
  16. Eggers S L, Lewandowska A M, Barcelos e Ramos J, Blanco-Ameijeiras S, Gallo F, Matthiessen B (2014) Community composition has greater impact on the functioning of marine phytoplankton communities than ocean acidification. Global Change Biology 20: 713-723; doi: 10.1111/gcb.12421
  17. Hansen T,  Gardeler B, Matthiessen B. (2013) Precise quantitative measurements of total dissolved inorganic carbon from small amounts of seawater using a gas chromatographic system. Biogeosciences 10: 6601–6608; doi:10.5194/bg-10-6601-2013
  18. Eggers S L, Matthiessen B (2013) Initial dominance in coccolitophore communities affects community structure but does not translate into community functioning. Marine Ecology Progress Series 473: 67–77; doi: 10.3354/meps10064
  19. Werner F J, Matthiessen B. (2013) Temperature indirectly affects benthic microalgal diversity by altering effects of top-down but not bottom-up control. Oikos 122: 52–63, doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2012.19952.x
  20. Matthiessen B, Eggers S L, Krug S A (2012) High nitrate to phosphorus regime attenuates negative effects of rising pCO2 on total population carbon accumulation. Biogeosciences 9, 1195–1203, doi:10.5194/bg-9-1195-2012.
  21. Eggers S L, Eriksson B K, Matthiessen, B (2012) A heat wave and dispersal cause dominance shift and decrease biomass in experimental metacommunities. Oikos, 121 (5): 721-733; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2011.19714.x
  22. Mouquet N, Matthiessen B, Miller T, Gonzalez A (2011) Extinction dept in source-sink metacommunities. PLoS One 6,3 e17567; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071567 
  23. Matthiessen B, Reusch T (2010) Marine biodiversity - a vital resource. 
    In: World Ocean Review, Maribus Verlag 
  24. Matthiessen B, Ptacnik R, Hillebrand H (2010) Diversity and community biomass depend on dispersal and disturbance in microalgal communities. Hydrobiologia 653, 1: 65; DOI 10.1007/s10750-010-0349-x
  25. Matthiessen B, Mielke E, Sommer U (2010) Dispersal decreases diversity in heterogeneous metacommunities by enhancing regional competition. Ecology 91 (7): 2022-2033; doi: 10.1890/09-1395.1
  26. Hillebrand H, Matthiessen B (2009) Biodiversity in a complex world: Consolidation and progress in functional biodiversity research. Ecology Letters 12: 1-15; doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01388.x
  27. Hillebrand H, Gamfeldt L, Jonnsson PR, Matthiessen B (2009) Consumer diversity indirectly changes prey nutrient content. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 380: 33-41; doi: 10.3354/meps07937
  28. Gamfeldt L, Matthiessen B, Jonsson PR, Hillebrand H. Effects of predator and herbivore diversity on ecosystem functioning in rock-pool metacommunities. (in prep) 
  29. Matthiessen B, Gamfeldt L, Jonsson PR, Hillebrand H (2007) Effects of grazer richness and combination on algal biomass in closed and open marine systems. Ecology 88 (1): 178-187; doi: 10.1890/0012-9658
  30. Matthiessen B, Hillebrand H (2006) Dispersal frequency affects local biomass production by controlling local diversity. Ecology Letters 9: 652-662; doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2006.00916.x
  31. Matthiessen B, Fock HO (2004) A null model for the analysis of dietary overlap in Macroramphosus spp. at Great Meteor Seamount (subtropical North-east Atlantic). Arch Fish Mar Res 51 (1-3): 294-304 
  32. Matthiessen B, Fock HO, von Westernhagen H (2003) Evidence for two sympatric species of snipefishes Macroramphosus spp. (Syngnathiformes, Centriscidae) on Great Meteor Seamount. Helgol Mar Res 57: 63-72; DOI 10.1007/s10152-002-0133-z
  33. Fock HO, Matthiessen B, Zidowitz H, von Westernhagen H. (2002) Diet and habitat-dependent resource utilisation by deep-sea fishes at the Great Meteor seamount: niche overlap and support for the sound scattering layer interception hyothesis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 244: 219-233; doi:10.3354/meps244219