Positive feedback in aquatic ecosystems

Lewi Stone, Richard S.J. Weisburd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aquatic ecosystems offer striking examples of how positive feedback can be integral to the dynamics of complex communities. In particular, microorganisms (bacteria and protozoa) introduce a multitude of positive feedback pathways by rapidly recycling nutrients at the very base of many aquatic food webs. The relatively large magnitude of fluxes being shunted through this 'microbial loop' allows an accumulation of nutrients in localized areas, promotes a general build-up of biomass, and acts as a 'life-support system' in harsh environments. In contrast to customary notions which portray positive feedback effects as undesirable, a reassessment indicates that this 'bootstrapping' can often be advantageous for many organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-267
Number of pages5
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes


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