Dr. Stefanie Moorthi

Research Focus

I’m interested in the effects of biodiversity loss and environmental change on microbial food webs, using a trait-based perspective. I mainly focus on herbivore – microalgae interactions in planktonic and benthic habitats, investigating the relevance of functional traits for food web dynamics under altered environmental conditions, regarding, e.g. nutrients, light and temperature. Specifically, I study the effects of inter – and intraspecific consumer and algal trait variation for trophic interactions, also in a spatial metacommunity context, the relevance of mixotrophic feeding strategies, and on causes and consequences of harmful algal blooms.


biodiversity –  trait variation – mixotrophy – harmful algae –  algae-herbivore interactions – ecological stoichiometry

Most Recent Projects

2019 – 2022 Spatial algal-resource dynamics. Subproject SP4 in DFG Research Unit DynaCom “Spatial community ecology in highly dynamic landscapes: from island biogeography to metaecosystems”.

2018 – 2021 The relevance of consumer competition and feeding traits, as well as their trade-offs, in determining multispecies trophic interactions. DFG funded project within the Priority Programme SPP1704 “Flexibility matters: Interplay between trait diversity and ecological dynamics using aquatic communities as model systems” (DynaTrait).

2018 - 2021 POpulation Shift and Ecosystem Response – Krill vs. Salps (POSER), Collaborative research project. Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK). Lead PIs: Bettina Meyer, Helmut Hillebrand, Co-PI’s: Bernd Blasius, Morten Iversen, Stefanie Moorthi, Scarlett Trimborn.    

Selected publications

Plum C, Hillebrand H and Moorthi SD (2020). Krill vs salps: dominance shift from krill to salps is associated with higher dissolved N:P ratios. Scientific Reports 10 (1): 5911. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62829-8

Flöder S, Klauschies T, Gaedke U, Yong J, Poprick T, Brinkhoff T and Moorthi SD (2021). Intraspecific trait variation alters the outcome of competition in freshwater ciliates.  Ecology and Evolution 11, 10225-10243. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7828

Purz AK, Hodapp D, and Moorthi SD (2021). Dispersal, location of bloom initiation, and nutrient conditions determine the dominance of the harmful dinoflagellate Alexandrium catenella: A meta-ecosystem study. Limnology and Oceanography 66, 3928-3943. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11933

Short CV

2008 - today Senior Researcher, University of Oldenburg, ICBM Wilhelmshaven, Germany

2007 - 2008 Senior Researcher, University of Cologne, Germany

2004 - 2007 Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

2000 - 2004 Dissertation at University of Kiel, GEOMAR, Germany

1993 - 2000 Study of Biology at the Universities of Göttingen and Kiel, Germany


(Stand: 20.04.2022)