Birte Matthiessen, Dr. rer. nat.

Phone: 0431 600 1599
Room: 1.301
e-mail: bmatthiessen(at)    

GEOMAR | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel
Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Wischhofstraße 1-3
D-24148 Kiel

Professional Vita

  • since 2012: Staff scientist in the research unit Marine Ecology - Foodwebs
  • since 2007: Postdoc in the research unit Marine Ecology - Foodwebs
  • 2007-2008: Editorial Assistant Marine Biology
  • 2003-2006: PhD-thesis 'Experimental Tests of Diversity Effects in Marine Metacommunities'. Leibniz-Institute of Marine Research (IFM-GEOMAR), Kiel University
  • 2002: Master Thesis: Feeding ecology of Macroramphosus scolopax (L. 1758) (Pisces) from Great Meteor Seamount, Alfred Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine research (AWI), Germany
  • 2002: Master of Science, University of Hamburg, Germany

Scientific Interests

  • Regulation of species coexistence
  • Consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning
  • Effects of global change on biodiversity and its consequences for ecosystem functioning


  • Shifts in bacteria-algae symbiotic interactions - effects on plankton community dynamics and properties (in DFG Research Group FOR 5726 DynaSym, 2024-2028). In collaboration with Cathleen Schlundt and Jorin Hamer.
  • Spatial algae - resource dynamics (DFG Research Group DynaCom, 2022-2025). In collaboration with Stefanie Moorthi, Bert Engelen and Mike Jan Smykala.
  • Nutrient uptake-related trait variability and trade-offs - adaptive evolution and community functioning in competing phytoplankton species (within DFG Priority Program 1704 Dynatrait, 2018-2022). In collaboration with Thorsten Reusch, Giannina Hattich.
  • Eco-evolutionary coupling in competing marine phytoplankton communities (within DFG Priority Program 1704 Dynatrait, 2015-2018). In collaboration 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. In collaboration 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. In collaboration with Martin Wahl, Franziska Werner.
  • The relation between biodiversity and resilience in source-sink metacommunities. Funded by NWO. In collaboration with Klemens Eriksson, Universität Groningen, Niederlande.


  1. Makareviciute-Fichtner K, Matthiessen B, Lotze H K, Sommer U (2024) Nutrient enrichment alters phytoplankton biomass and composition via silicon limitation. Front. Mar. Sci. 11:1289768.
    doi: 10.3389/fmars.2024.1289768
  2. Hattich GSI, Listmann L, Havenhand J, Reusch TBH, Matthiessen B (2023) Temporal variation in ecological and evolutionary contributions to phytoplankton functional shifts. Limnology and Oceanography; accepted manuscript;
  3. Hamer J, Matthiessen B, Pulina S, Hattich GSI (2022) Maintenance of Intraspecific Diversity in Response to Species Competition and Nutrient Fluctuations. Microorganisms, 10(1):113.
  4. Charalampous E, Matthiessen B, Sommer U (2021) Grazing induced shifts in phytoplankton cell size explain the community response to nutrient supply. Microorganisms, 9, 2440.
  5. Paul C, Sommer U, Matthiessen B (2021) Composition and dominance of edible and inedible phytoplankton predict responses of Baltic Sea summer communities to elevated temperature and CO2. Microorganisms; 9(11):2294;
  6. Hattich GSI, Listmann L, Govaert L, Pansch C, Reusch TBH, Matthiessen B (2021) Experimentally decomposing phytoplankton community change into ecological and evolutionary contributions. Functional Ecology; 36, 120-132;
  7. Makareviciute-Fichtner K, Matthiessen B, Lotze H K & Sommer U (2021) Phytoplankton nutritional quality is altered by shifting Si:N ratios and selective grazing. Journal of Plankton Research; 43, 325-337;
  8. Engel F G, Dini-Andreote F, Eriksson B K, Falcao Salles F, De Lima Brossi M J, Matthiessen B (2020) Dispersal mitigates bacterial dominance over microalgal competitor in metacommunities. Oecologia;
  9. Listmann L, Hattich GSI, Matthiessen B, Reusch TBH (2020) Eco-evolutionary interaction in competing phytoplankton: nutrient driven genotype sorting likely explains dominance shift and species responses to CO2. Frontiers in Marine Science 7, 634; doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00634
  10. Makareviciute-Fichtner K, Matthiessen B, Lotze H, Sommer U (2020) Decrease in diatom dominance at lower Si:N ratios alters plankton food webs. Journal of Plankton Research; 42 (4), 411-424;
  11. Engel F G, Matthiessen B, Eriksson B K (2020) A heatwave increases turnover and regional dominance in microbenthic metacommunities. Basic and Applied Ecology;
  12. 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 (2020) 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
  13. Charalampous E, Matthiessen B, Sommer U (2018) Light effects on phytoplankton morphometric traits influence nutrient utilization ability. Journal of Plankton Research;
  14. 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
  15. 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;
  16. 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;
  17. 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
  18. 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.doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0774          (Nature Climate Change | Research Highlight)
  19. 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
  20. 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; 10.1002/lno.10342
  21. 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: 10.1002/lno.10256
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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 123:762-76; doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00927.x
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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.
  31. 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
  32. 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 
  33. Matthiessen B, Reusch T (2010) Marine biodiversity - a vital resource. 
    In: World Ocean Review, Maribus Verlag 
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. 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
  37. 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
  38. Gamfeldt L, Matthiessen B, Jonsson PR, Hillebrand H. Effects of predator and herbivore diversity on ecosystem functioning in rock-pool metacommunities. (in prep) 
  39. 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
  40. 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
  41. 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 
  42. 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
  43. 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