Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services

Ecosystems can exist in two alternative stable States: a state which is healthy and desirable, another which is disturbed and undesirable. Vigorous ecosystems, characterized by a high biodiversity, can resist human pressures and maintain healthy ecosystem functioning. However, suddenly the ecosystem may collapse, biodiversity is lost and the services provided by the ecosystem disappear, resulting in large costs to society. This sudden change is called a regime shift. In lakes, under pressure from eutrophication, invasive species like Dreissenid mussels and climate warming may make problems worse. Lakes under pressure may develop a very poor condition, above all characterized by nuisance blooms of toxic cyanobacteria. In our group we study the eco-physiology and adaptation of nuisance cyanobacteria, in order to better understand and predict their proliferation in changing lakes. We also study ecosystem changes, and the negative consequences of the proliferation of the cyanobacteria for the provision of ecosystem services like the provision of drinking water, collecting seafood and recreation. In addition, methods for the restoration of lakes to their original state with high biodiversity are being investigated.

Representative publications

Carey, C.C., Ibelings, B.W., Hoffmann, E.P, Hamilton, D.P. & Brookes, J.D. Eco-physiological adaptations that favour cyanobacteria in a changing climate. Water Research 46: SI 1394-1407

Dioniso-Pires, L.M., Sarpe, D., Brehm, M & Ibelings, B.W. Potential synergistic effects of microcystins and bacterial lipopolysaccharadides and on life history traits of Daphnia galeata raised on low and high food levels. Aquatic Toxicology 130, 230-242.

Ibelings, B.W. & Chorus, I. Accumulation of cyanobacterial toxins in freshwater ‘seafood’ and its consequences for public health: a review. Environmental Pollution 150, 177-192.

Ibelings, B.W., De Jonge, J., Wolfstein, K., Bruning, K., Postma, J., Dioniso Pires, M. & Burger, T. (2005). Distribution of microcystins in a lake foodweb: no evidence for biomagnification. Microbial Ecology 49, 487-500.

Ibelings, B.W. , Portielje R., Lammens, E., Meijer, M.L., Noordhuis, R., van den Berg, M., Joosse, W., & Scheffer, M. Resilience of alternative stable states during the recovery of shallow lakes from eutrophication. Ecosystems 10, 4-16