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Review article2023Peer reviewed

Ecosystem services provided by fungi in freshwaters: a wake-up call

Seena, Sahadevan; Baschien, Christiane; Barros, Juliana; Sridhar, Kandikere R.; Graca, Manuel A. S.; Mykra, Heikki; Bundschuh, Mirco


The set of functions and resources derived from ecosystems are broadly described as ecosystem services. Human society is gratified by a diverse range of services from the freshwater ecosystems to which fungi contribute significantly; yet they are unacknowledged for the services they provide. Aquatic fungi, especially aquatic hyphomycetes, are a distinct ecological group of organisms, accomplishing critical functions in the freshwater food web dynamics. Here, we conceptualize and categorize ecosystem services provided by aquatic hyphomycetes according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, specifically (i) regulating services, such as leaf litter decomposition and the self-cleaning capacity of freshwaters; (ii) supporting services, like nutrient cycling and bioindicators of environmental conditions; (iii) provisioning services, notably metabolites and clean water; and ultimately (iv) cultural services, particularly educational and inspirational values. Increased awareness and valuation of the ecosystem services delivered by aquatic hyphomycetes is essential to reinforce freshwater ecosystem management and policymaking. Overall, our perspective will serve as a wake-up call to map, quantify, and valorize the critical ecosystem services offered by these fungi across the globe. We also highlight the need to consider interactions between ecosystem services and a consistent life cycle assessment, i.e., from resource extraction to end-of-life disposal, promoting sustainable use of ecosystems.


Biodiversity; Litter decomposition; Conservation; Metabolites; Nutrient cycling; Aquatic hyphomycetes

Published in

2023, Volume: 850, number: 12, pages: 2779-2794
Publisher: SPRINGER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)