Helmut Hillebrand



Research Focus

Biodiversity - ecosystem functioning, ecological stoichiometry, competition, predator-prey interactions

Project Association


German Science Foundation (DFG)

The productivity – stoichiometry – diversity concept in grasslands: disentangling intra- and interspecific variance in resource use, 2013-2016 (DFG: Hi 848/11-2), within Research Unit Jena Experiment [PI]

Analysis of the effects of plant diversity on the ecological stoichiometry of grassland ecosystems, 2010-2013 (DFG: Hi 848/11-1), within Research Unit Jena Experiment [PI]

Functional consequences of aquatic biodiversity for ecosystem biogeoche-mistry and element cycling, 2009, round table discussion (DFG: Hi 848/10-1) [PI]

Effect of global change on carbon sequestration and food web structure across ecosystems, 2009, international workshop (DFG: Hi 848/9-1) [PI]

Resilience and diversity in aquatic metacommunities: Effects of dispersal and the spatial scale of disturbance, 2009-2013 (DFG: Hi 848/8-1) [PI]

Ecological stoichiometry in aquatic food webs: food quality and multitrophic, 2009-2013 (DFG: Hi 848/7-1) [PI]

Relevance of functional diversity in microbial food webs: effects of grazer diversity on prey diversity and composition, 2008-2011, (DFG: Mo 1931/1-1;1-2) [Co-PI; PI: Stefanie Moorthi]           

The role of the microbial loop in benthic communities – combining food web theory and ecological stoichiometry, 2005-2008 (DFG: Hi 848 4-1; 4-2) [PI]

Long- and short-term effects of climate variability and physical forcing on the diversity of aquatic organisms, 2006-2009, (DFG: Hi 848/3-1; 3-2) within priority program AQUASHIFT [PI]

Experimental test of biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning in marine environments, 2003-2006 (DFG: Hi 848 1-1/-2) [PI]

European Union

TIPPING points, biodiversity, resilience and ecosystem services: PONDs as model systems, 2013-2016 (EU Biodiversa / BMBF) with Catholic University Leuven (Belgium, coordinator Luc de Meester), Uppsala University (Sweden, Eva Lindström & Silke Langenheder), and ISARA-Lyon (France, Alexander Wezel) [PI]

Subproject “Algal biofuels” in enercoast - BlueGreen Coastal Energy Community, 2009-2012, European Union (Interreg IVB North Sea Program) [PI, coordinator Thomas Klenke]  

Structure and stoichiometry of microbenthic communities, 2001-2003, Marine Curie Individual Fellowship (MCFI-CT-2000-00912)

Volkswagen Foundation

Harmful algal blooms, subproject in the collaborative project “Recurrent Extreme Events in Spatially Extended Systems: Mechanisms of their Generation and Termination”, 2011-2014, coordinator Ulrike Feudel [Co-PI; PI: Stefanie Moorthi]

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Nutritional bioindicators and ecological stoichiometry, Fellowship for Senior Researcher (3.1-KAN/1139289 STP) 2011, [Host, Fellow: Paul Frost, Trent University]

Lower Saxony Ministries for Science and Culture (MWK) & for Environment (MU)

“WIMO”: Scientific basis of monitoring of the German Bight; subproject: case study biodiversity, 2010-2015 [PI]

Dutch Science Foundation (NWO)

The relation between biodiversity and resilience in source-sink meta-communities 2009-2012, [collaborator, PI: Britas Klemens Eriksson, Groningen, NL]

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst

Diversity of marine invertebrates enhances the functioning of the ecosystem, 2004-2005 (DAAD: D04/04378), project-related scientist exchange with Tjärnö Marine Biology Labpratory, Sweden (Per Jonsson) [PI]

Simultaneous effects of top-down and bottom-up regulating forces on periphyton. 1999-2001 (DAAD: D/99/08944), postdoc fellowship [PI]

Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsrådet

Quantification of global patterns of biodiversity, 2002-2003 (VR: 621-2002-215) [PI]



Jul 2008 - now: Professor of Pelagic Ecology, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg (D) 

Apr 2004 – Jun 2008: Associate Professor of Aquatic Ecology, Institute of Botany, University of Cologne (D)

Dec 2002 - Mar 2004: Assistant Professor of Marine Ecology, Institute for Marine Science (IFM), University of Kiel (D)

Oct 2001 - Nov 2002: Research Fellow, University of Uppsala, Department of Limnology (SE)

Oct 1999 - Sep 2001: Post-Doc, Erkenlaboratory, University of Uppsala, Dept Limnology (SE)

Mar 1996 - Aug 1999: PhD student, IFM, University of Kiel (D)


Senior Editor Ecology Letters (2004-)

Editorial board Ecology (2005-)

Editorial board Marine Biodiversity (2008-)

Appointed Member of the Senate Commission on Biodiversity of the German Science Foundation, DFG (2008-)

Elected Member of the Review Board Zoology: Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity of the German Science Foundation, DFG (2012-)

Member of German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, idiv, Leipzig


Hillebrand H, Dürselen CD, Kirschtel D, Zohary T, Pollingher U 1999. Biovolume calculation for pelagic and benthic microalgae. Journal of Phycology 35: 403–424

Hillebrand H, Worm B, Lotze HK 2000. Marine microbenthic community structure regulated by nitrogen loading and grazing pressure. Marine Ecology Progress Series 204: 27-38

Worm B, Lotze HK, Hillebrand H, Sommer U 2002. Consumer versus resource control of species diversity and ecosystem functioning. Nature 417: 848-851

Hillebrand H & Blenckner T 2002. Regional impact on local diversity – from pattern to process. Oecologia 132: 479-491

Hillebrand H 2004 On the generality of the latitudinal diversity gradient. American Naturalist 163: 192-211

Shurin JB, Gruner DS & Hillebrand H 2006. All wet or dried up? Real differences between aquatic and terrestrial food webs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 273: 1-9

Drakare S, Lennon JJ & Hillebrand H 2006. The imprint of the geographical, evolutionary and ecological context on species-area curves. Ecology Letters 9: 215-227

Cardinale BJ, Charles DF & Hillebrand H 2006. Geographic patterns of biodiversity predicted by a multivariate model of species coexistence. Journal of Ecology 94: 609-608

Matthiessen B & Hillebrand H 2006. Effects of dispersal and local diversity on local productivity in metacommunities. Ecology Letters 9: 652-662

Soininen J, MacArthur RM & Hillebrand H 2007. The distance decay of similarity in ecological communities. Ecography 30: 3-12

Hillebrand H, Gruner DS, Bracken ME, Cleland EE, Elser JJ, Harpole WS, Ngai JT, Seabloom EW, Shurin JB, Smith JE 2007. Consumer versus resource control of producer diversity depends on ecosystem type and producer community structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 104: 10904–10909

Elser JJ, Borer ET, Bracken ME, Cleland EE, Gruner DS, Harpole WS, Hillebrand H, Ngai JT, Seabloom EW, Shurin JB, Smith JE 2007. Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters 10: 1135–1142

Gamfeldt L, Hillebrand J & Jonsson PR 2008. Multiple Functions increase the importance of biodiversity for overall ecosystem functioning. Ecology 89: 1223-1231

Hillebrand H, Bennett D & Cadotte MW 2008. The consequences of dominance: A review of the effects of evenness on local and regional ecosystem processes. Ecology 89: 1510-1520.

Gruner D, Smith J, Seabloom E, Sandin S, Ngai JT, Hillebrand H, Harpole W, Elser JJ,  Cleland E, Bracken M, Borer E, & Bolker B 2008. A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. Ecology Letters 11: 740-755

Cardinale BJ, Hillebrand H, Harpole SW, Gross K & Ptacnik R 2009. Separating the influence of resource ‘availability’ from resource ‘imbalance’ on productivity–diversity relationships. Ecology Letters 12: 475-487

Hillebrand H, Borer ET, Bracken MES, Cardinale BJ, Cebrian J, Cleland EE, Elser JJ, Gruner DS, Harpole WS, Ngai JT, Sandin S, Seabloom EW, Shurin JB, Smith JE & Smith MD 2009. Herbivore metabolism and stoichiometry each constrain herbivory at different organizational scales across ecosystems. Ecology Letters 12: 516-527

Hillebrand H & Matthiessen B 2009.  Biodiversity in a complex world: Consolidation and progress in functional biodiversity research. Ecology Letters 12: 1405-1419

Hillebrand H, Soininen J & Snoeijs P 2010. Warming leads to higher species turnover in a coastal ecosystem. Global Change Biology 16: 1181-1193

Korhonen JJ, Soininen J& Hillebrand H 2010. A quantitative analysis of temporal turnover in aquatic species assemblages across ecosystems. Ecology 91: 508-517

Ptacnik R, Moorthi SD, Hillebrand H 2010. Hutchinson Reversed, or Why There Need to Be So Many Species. Advances Ecological Research 43: 1-43

Burgmer T & Hillebrand H 2011. Temperature mean and variance alter phytoplankton biomass and biodiversity in a long-term microcosm experiment. Oikos 120: 922-933

Hillebrand H & Lehmpfuhl V 2011. Resource stoichiometry and consumers control the biodiversity- productivity relationship in pelagic metacommunities. American Naturalist 178: 171-181

Logue JB, Mouquet N, Peter H, Hillebrand H & The Metacommunity Working Group 2011. Empirical approaches to metacommunities – a review and comparison to theory. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26: 482-491

Harpole WS, Ngai JT, Cleland EE, Seabloom EW, Borer ET, Bracken MES, Elser JJ, Gruner DS, Hillebrand H, Shurin JB & Smith JE 2011. Nutrient co-limitation of primary producer communities. Ecology Letters 14: 852-862

Adler PB, Seabloom EW, Borer ET, Hillebrand H, Hautier Y, Hector A, Harpole WS, O'Halloran LR, Grace JB, and the Nutrient Network 2011. Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science 333: 1750-53

Allan E, Weisser W, Fischer M, Weigelt A & Hillebrand H 2011. More species are required to maintain ecosystem function across multiple years. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 108: 17034-39

Wikström S & Hillebrand H 2012. Invasion of mobile aquatic consumers: importance of resource availability and effects on lower trophic levels. Oecologia 168: 175-186

Grace JB, Adler PB, Seabloom EW, Borer ET, Hillebrand H, Hautier Y, Hector A, Harpole WS, O'Halloran LR, Anderson TM, Bakker JD, Brown CS, Buckley YM, Collins SL, Cottingham KL, Crawley MJ, Damschen EI, Davies KF, DeCrappeo NM, Fay PA, Firn J, Gruner DS, Hagenah N, Jin VL, Kirkman KP, Knops JMH, La Pierre KJ, Lambrinos JG, Melbourne BA, Mitchell CE, Moore JL, Morgan JW, Orrock JL, Prober SM, Stevens CJ, Wragg PD, Yang LH 2012. Response to Comments on "Productivity Is a Poor Predictor of Plant Species Richness". Science 335. DOI 10.1126/science.1214939

Bartels P, Cucherousset J, Steger K, Eklöv P, Tranvik LJ & Hillebrand H. Ecology across boundaries: Reciprocal subsidies between freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems structure consumer-resource dynamics. Ecology 93: 1173-1182

Wagner N, Hillebrand H, Wacker A, Frost P (2013) Nutritional indicators and their uses in ecology. Ecology Letters 16: 535-544

Lind E, Borer E, Seabloom E, Adler P, Bakker J, Blumenthal D, Crawley M, Davies K, Firn J, Gruner D, Harpole SW, Hautier Y, Hillebrand H, Knops J, Melbourne B, Mortensen B, Risch A, Schuetz M, Stevens C, Wragg P (2013) Life history constraints in grassland plant species: a growth-defense tradeoff is the norm. Ecology Letters 16: 513-521

Abbas M, Ebeling A, Oelmann Y, Ptacnik R, Roscher C, Weigelt A, Weisser WW, WilckeW, Hillebrand H (2013) Biodiversity effects on plant stoichiometry. PLoS ONE 8: e58179