Energy Flux: The Link between Multitrophic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning

Andrew D. Barnes*, Malte Jochum, Jonathan S. Lefcheck, Nico Eisenhauer, Christoph Scherber, Mary I. O'Connor, Peter de Ruiter, Ulrich Brose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Relating biodiversity to ecosystem functioning in natural communities has become a paramount challenge as links between trophic complexity and multiple ecosystem functions become increasingly apparent. Yet, there is still no generalised approach to address such complexity in biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) studies. Energy flux dynamics in ecological networks provide the theoretical underpinning of multitrophic BEF relationships. Accordingly, we propose the quantification of energy fluxes in food webs as a powerful, universal tool for understanding ecosystem functioning in multitrophic systems spanning different ecological scales. Although the concept of energy flux in food webs is not novel, its application to BEF research remains virtually untapped, providing a framework to foster new discoveries into the determinants of ecosystem functioning in complex systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • ecological stoichiometry
  • ecosystem multifunctionality
  • food web
  • interaction network
  • metabolic theory
  • trophic cascade

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