THESys Member Robert Arlinghaus (IGB & HU Berlin) and his colleagues have ecologically enhanced 20 lakes in Lower Saxony. The transdisciplinary study on their large-scale experiment was published in the journal Science.

Berlin researchers argue for ecosystem-based management

The loss of biodiversity in inland waters is a cause for concern. Many conservation concepts aim to promote individual species. An alternative approach is to restore ecological frameworks that serve all species. This so-called ecosystem-based management is rarely implemented to date, not least for cost reasons, and is also not yet well researched.

In a groundbreaking study, a research team from Berlin has now been able to show that the restoration of ecological processes has a more sustainable effect on communities and species than a narrow focus on the protection of individual species. In particular, the creation of shallow water zones sustainably increased fish populations, mainly because these zones serve as spawning grounds for many fish species and as refugia for young fish. In contrast, the traditionally popular species-focused fish stocking completely failed to achieve its goal.

For this study, 20 quarry ponds were monitored over 6 years with more than 150,000 fish sampled. Also, local fishing clubs have contributed intensively to this transdisciplinary study. Thus, the authors come to another important conclusion: water protection works particularly well when water user groups such as fishing clubs become active on their own responsibility and are supported in their efforts by authorities, associations and science. In this way, nature conservation and nature use can be reconciled. After all, both species and water users benefit from the enhancement of water bodies.


Radinger J, Matern S, Klefoth T, Wolter C, Feldhege F, Monk CT, Arlinghaus R (2023) Ecosystem-based management outperforms species-focused stocking for enhancing fish populations. Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.adf0895.

Corresponding authors

Johannes Radinger, 
Robert Arlinghaus, 
Thomas Klefoth, 
Christian Wolter, 

More information

Click here for the press release on the website of the IGB Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries

Everything about the project BAGGERSEE:

Photo by Thomas Klefoth