Ecosystem functions

Cyanobacteria and microalgae provide various ecosystem functions (e.g. organic matter and oxygen production) and ecosystem services to human society (e.g. as food source or bioconversion of wastes). Phytoplankters are frequently used in experimental ecology and water quality assessment due to their high reproduction rate and quick response to environmental changes. While technical development has boosted many fields of biology, the identification of phytoplankton based on morphology has remained unchanged over the last half century. Automatized quantification of phytoplankton has developed fast coupled with the marginalization of classical taxonomy and loss in species identification expertise, hindering the development of species-based science and assessment in this field. As scientists of the Functional Algology Research Group at the Centre for Ecological Research, Hungary, we faced these challenges every day.