Community Ecology Research

Meta-ecosystem ecology

EMERGe: Eawag Meta-Ecosystem Research Group – Bridging biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in space

EMERGe is a broad collaborative effort of the Altermatt lab to foster conceptual and empirical advancements of the meta-ecosystem framework. The meta-ecosystem concept postulates that flows of energy (biotic and abiotic) among ecosystems have important reciprocal effects on the community structure and ecosystem processes of all connected ecosystems. Thus, a meta-ecosystem perspective allows a parsimonious appreciation of both the effect of regional and local dynamics on species assembly (meta-community assembly) and the resulting feedbacks of species diversity on ecosystem processes (biodiversity – ecosystem functioning). This is especially important in the context where most biodiversity loss worldwide occur in altered and fragmented landscapes, yet our knowledge of how diversity affects ecosystem processes in space is limited.

We experimentally test theoretical predictions of the meta-ecosystem concept and expand them to a broad range of ecosystems. We specifically integrate them in spatially explicit  dendritic river networks, using a wide range of organisms (protists and amphipods) and spatial scales (microcosms, mesocosms and river sampling) in combination with mathematical models.