New discovery: the heart and core of aquatic ecosystem health

New discovery: the heart and core of aquatic ecosystem health

This new discovery identified what is the essence, heart and core of aquatic ecosystem health. This is a key to water sustainability.

The concept of ecosystem health became popular. What is the core of  ecosystem health in case of aquatic ecosystems (reservoirs, rivers, lakes, seas, estuaries)?

To answer this question, there are a lot of factors to be given attention. One of these factors was  underestimated and almost ignored until now. However, this factor became more visible after the  works conducted at M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University.

This factor is the ability of a healthy ecosystem to improve and maintain water quality, in other words, to perform self-purification of water.

The main features of water self-purification were discovered, described and put into a system  in   a series of  publications of 1998 – 2010 [1-9].

In addition to above-mentioned English papers, the same author published some articles in Russian [10-15]:

Moreover,  the various aspects of self-purification were analyzed in the books of 2004 -2008 [16-18].

Additional discussion of these publications is given at sites  [19-21].

These publications developed a new theory of water self-purification.

In conclusion, the analysis of current literature demonstrated that the ecosystem health of aquatic  -freshwater, estuarine, marine – ecosystems  includes the ability of the biological community to purify water (to perform water self-purification). The modern theory of water self-purification was developed by the author in a series of papers and books, 1998 -2010.


1. Ostroumov S. A.  Biological filtering and ecological machinery for self-purification and bioremediation in aquatic ecosystems: towards a holistic view. // Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum. 1998. 91: 247-258.

2. Ostroumov S. A.  The Concept of Aquatic Biota as a Labile and Vulnerable Component of the Water Self-Purification System. – Doklady Biological Sciences, Vol. 372, 2000 , pp. 286–289.;

3. Ostroumov S. A. An aquatic ecosystem: a large-scale diversified bioreactor with a water self-purification function. – Doklady Biological Sciences, 2000. Vol. 374, P. 514-516.;; the paper gave a new insight into the core functions and identity of ecosystem as a bioreactor to maintain water quality;

4. Ostroumov S.A.  Inhibitory analysis of top-down control: new keys to studying eutrophication, algal blooms, and water self-purification. – Hydrobiologia. 2002, vol. 469, p. 117-129;;

5. Ostroumov S.A. Polyfunctional role of biodiversity in processes leading to water purification: current conceptualizations and  concluding remarks. Hydrobiologia. 2002. V. 469 (1-3): 203-204.;

6. Ostroumov S.A. On the Biotic Self-purification of Aquatic Ecosystems: Elements of the Theory; Doklady Biological Sciences, 2004, v.396, No.1-6; pp.206-211.;

7. Ostroumov S. A.  Aquatic ecosystem as a  bioreactor: water purification and some  other functions.   –   Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum, 2004, 97 (1): 67-78

8. Ostroumov S. A.  On some issues of maintaining water quality and self-purification.- Water Resources, 2005. Volume 32, Number 3, p. 305-313.

9. Ostroumov S. A. Biocontrol of Water Quality: Multifunctional Role of Biota in Water Self-Purification. – Russian Journal of General Chemistry, 2010, Vol. 80, No. 13, pp. 2754–2761. —;; DOI: 10.1134/S1070363210130086;

10. Остроумов С.А. Концепция водной биоты как лабильного и уязвимого звена системы самоочищения воды // Доклады  РАН (ДАН).  2000. Т.  372. № 2. С. 279-282.

11. Остроумов С.А. Водная  экосистема: крупноразмерный диверсифицированный биореактор с функцией самоочищения воды // ДАН, 2000, Т. 374,  №3. С.427-429.;

12. Остроумов С.А. О биотическом самоочищении водных экосистем. Элементы теории. // Доклады академии наук (ДАН), (2004), том 396. № 1, с. 136–141.;;

13. Остроумов С.А. Биологический механизм самоочищения в природных водоемах и водотоках: теория и практика //   Успехи современной биологии.   2004. Т.124. №5. С. 429-442.;

14. Остроумов С.А. О некоторых вопросах поддержания качества воды и ее самоочищения // Водные ресурсы. 2005. т. 32. № 3. С. 337-347.

15. Остроумов С.А. Элементы теории биоконтроля качества воды: фактор экологической безопасности источников водоснабжения (=Elements of the theory of biocontrol of water quality: a factor in the ecological safety of the sources of water) //  Химическая и биологическая безопасность. 2008. № 5-6. с.36-39.

16. Ostroumov S.A.  Biotic Mechanism of Self-purification of Freshwater and Marine Water. (Ecological Studies, Hazards, Solutions, vol. 9) Мoscow: МAX Press. 2004.  96 p., Bibliogr. 59-85. Abstract in English. Section in English: p.53-58;  ISBN 5-317-01120-5.;; In Russian:

Остроумов С.А. Биотический механизм самоочищения пресных и морских вод. Элементы теории и приложения = Biotic mechanism of self-purification of freshwater and marine water.; М.: МАКС Пресс. 2004.  96 с. Библиогр.: c. 59-85. ISBN 5-317-01120-5.

17. Ostroumov S.A.  Pollution, Self-purification and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems. Мoscow: МAX Press.  2005.  100 p.  Bibliogr.: 63-89. Glossary. Extended English abstract (p. 57-62), ISBN 5-317-01213-9. In Russian:

Загрязнение, самоочищение и восстановление водных экосистем = Pollution, self-purification and restoration of aquatic ecosystems. М.: МАКС Пресс. 2005.  100 с.,  Библиогр.: с.63-89. ISBN 5-317-01213-9.

18. Ostroumov S.A.  Aquatic organisms in water self-purification and biogenic migration of elements. Moscow. MAX Press. 2008. 200 p.  ISBN 978-5-317-02625-7. In Russian:

Гидробионты в самоочищении вод и биогенной миграции элементов. М. МАКС-Пресс. 2008. 200 с. Предисловие члена-корр. РАН В.В. Малахова. Библиогр.: с.155-191. (Серия: Наука. Образование. Инновации. Выпуск 9). ISBN 978-5-317-02625-7.

Some relevant sites:

19 Making water sustainable:;

20 Aquatic ecosystems…;

21 Water quality…



About the author (Dr. S.A.O., Fulbright Award winner):


Citation of this author:


Key words:

reservoirs, rivers, lakes, seas, estuaries, Biotic Mechanism, Self-purification, Freshwater, Marine Water, Aquatic organisms, water, Pollution, Restoration, Aquatic Ecosystems,


Discovery of the key role of organisms that filter water and make it clear


  Recent data demonstrated a gigantic role of aquatic organisms in making water clean and clear. It was shown in the long-term international project that was carried out recently. The amazing results were presented in this paper, which is a review of the multi-year studies of aquatic organisms, mainly marine and freshwater invertebrates that are filter-feeders – freshwater mussels, marine mussels, oysters. They play a key role as biological filters – as an important part of the biosphere and hydrosphere. The studies were conducted in laboratories of four countries, including U.K. (England), Russia, Ukraine.

Ostroumov S.A. Biological filters are an important part of the biosphere – Science in Russia. 2009. No. 2. P. 30-36, in English. [The journal ‘Science in Russia’ is published by the Presidium of Russian Academy of Sciences, both in English and in Russian; Nauka Publishers, Moscow; ISSN 0869-7078., ©Russian Academy of Sciences Presidium.] Full text of the paper see:;

Additional in-depth analysis of the role of aquatic organisms that filter water was given also in the papers:
Ostroumov S.A. Some aspects of water filtering activity of filter-feeders // Hydrobiologia. 2005. Vol. 542, No. 1. P. 275 – 286. text:
Also:; [planktonic filter-feeders];

see also Chapter entitled: “Suspension-feeders as factors influencing water quality in aquatic ecosystems”
in the book:



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