The majority of research on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning in laboratories has concentrated on a few traits, but there is increasing evidence from the field that functional diversity controls ecosystem functioning more often than does species number. Given the importance of traits as predictors of niche complementarity and community structures, we (1) examine how the diversity sensu lato of forest trees, freshwater fishes and soil invertebrates might support ecosystem functioning and (2) discuss the relevance of productive biota for monophyletic assemblages (taxocenes).In terrestrial ecosystems, correlating traits to abiotic factors is complicated by the appropriate choice of body-size distributions. Angiosperm and gymnosperm trees, for example, show metabolic incongruences in their respiration rates despite their pronounced macroecological scaling. Scaling heterotrophic organisms within their monophyletic assemblages seems more difficult than scaling autotrophs: in contrast to the generally observed decline of mass-specific metabolic rates with body mass within metazoans, soil organisms such as protozoans show opposite mass-specific trends.At the community level, the resource demand of metazoans shapes multitrophic interactions. Hence, population densities and their food web relationships reflect functional diversity, but the influence of biodiversity on stability and ecosystem functioning remains less clear. We focused on fishes in 18 riverine food webs, where the ratio of primary versus secondary extinctions (hereafter, 'extinction partitioning') summarizes the responses of fish communities to primary species loss (deletions) and its consequences. Based on extinction partitioning, our high-diversity food webs were just as (or even more) vulnerable to extinctions as low-diversity food webs.Our analysis allows us to assess consequences of the relocation or removal of fish species and to help with decision-making in sustainable river management. The study highlights that the topology of food webs (and not simply taxonomic diversity) plays a greater role in stabilizing the food web and enhancing ecological services than is currently acknowledged.