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New Paper: Ebeling et al. 2017. Plant diversity effects on arthropods and arthropod-dependent ecosystem functions in a biodiversity experiment


Biodiversity-ecosystem function experiments test how species diversity influences fundamental ecosystem processes. Historically, arthropod driven functions, such as herbivory and pest-control, have been thought to be influenced by direct and indirect associations among species. Although a number of studies have evaluated how plant diversity affects arthropod communities and arthropod-mediated ecosystem processes, it remains unclear whether diversity effects on arthropods are sufficiently consistent over time such that observed responses can be adequately predicted by classical hypotheses based on associational effects. By combining existing results from a long-term grassland biodiversity experiment (Jena Experiment) with new analyses, we evaluate the consistency of consumer responses within and across taxonomic, trophic, and trait-based (i.e. vertical stratification) groupings, and we consider which changes in arthropod community composition are associated with changes in consumer-mediated ecosystem functions.

Overall, higher plant species richness supported more diverse and complex arthropod communities and this pattern was consistent across multiple years. Vegetation-associated arthropods responded more strongly to changes in plant species richness than ground-dwelling arthropods. Additionally, increases in plant species richness were associated with shifts in the species-abundance distributions for many, but not all taxa. For example, highly specialized consumers showed a decrease in dominance and an increase in the number of rare species with increasing plant species richness. Most ecosystem processes investigated responded to increases in plant species richness in the same way as the trophic group mediating the process, e.g. both herbivory and herbivore diversity increase with increasing plant species richness. In the Jena Experiment and other studies, inconsistencies between predictions based on classic hypotheses of associational effects and observed relationships between plant species richness and arthropod diversity likely reflect the influence of multi-trophic community dynamics and species functional trait distributions. Future research should focus on testing a broader array of mechanisms to unravel the biological processes underlying the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships.


Anne Ebeling, Jes Hines, Lionel R. Hertzog, Markus Lange, Sebastian T. Meyer, Nadja K. Simons, Wolfgang W. Weisser, Plant diversity effects on arthropods and arthropod-dependent ecosystem functions in a biodiversity experiment, In Basic and Applied Ecology, 2017, , ISSN 1439-1791, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2017.09.014.



Anne Ebeling


Meldung vom: 03.11.2017 18:06 Uhr
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