Two decades of intensive research have provided compelling evidence for a link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (B-EF). Whereas early B-EF research concentrated on species richness and single processes, recent studies have investigated different measures of both biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, such as functional diversity and joint metrics of multiple processes. There is also a shift from viewing assemblages in terms of their contribution to particular processes toward placing them within a wider food web context. We review how the responses and predictors in B-EF experiments are quantified and how biodiversity effects are shaped by multitrophic interactions. Further, we discuss how B-EF metrics and food web relations could be addressed simultaneously. We conclude that addressing traits, multiple processes and food web interactions is needed to capture the mechanisms that underlie B-EF relations in natural assemblages.