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Arthropods, especially insects, are the most diverse group of animals on Earth and influence many ecosystem processes. Within the project Arthropods
1) a long-term monitoring of insect and spider diversity is conducted in grasslands and forests,
2) ecosystem processes, such as predation, dung depletion and seed removal are quantified, and
3) the role of deadwood insects in the decomposition of deadwood is analysed as part of the BELongDead experiment.


Arthropods are sampled in forests and grasslands during the whole vegetation period (March-October) as part of the long-term monitoring. Through this monitoring, we not only can quantify short-term but also long-term effects of land use on arthropod diversity in grasslands and forests. Additionally, important basic information is supplied for other projects. In addition to the long-term monitoring, the use of indicator species is tested and ecological information (traits) of the sampled species are collected to test for the effect of land use on community composition and to understand the processes underlying land-use effects. In collaboration with other projects, we conduct time series analyses and examine the influence of the surrounding landscape, of historical land use and of structural variables on arthropod diversity.

Hypotheses

  1.  Increasing land-use intensity decreases the diversity and overall abundance of arthropods in forests and grasslands.
  2.  Arthropod community composition changes with intensive land use, as species with certain characteristics become more abundant or rare.

Methods

Actively flying arthropods are sampled monthly in forests (including the new FOX experiment) with flight-interception traps.
In grasslands, ground-living arthropods and species which are found in the vegetation layer are caught by monthly sweep-net sampling.


We evaluate the impact of land use on the ecosystem processes predation, dung depletion and seed removal. We test experimentally, if an increase in diversity within extensively used systems accelerates process rates. Through the joined analysis of data from the long-term monitoring and the ecosystem process assessment, we are able to detect relationships between land use, arthropod communities and connected processes.

Hypotheses

  1. Changes in arthropod community composition affect ecosystem processes (e.g., dung depletion) and the diversity of other taxa.
  2. Process rates are higher in natural forests as well as under extensive land use in grasslands.

Methods

We use dummy caterpillars made from modelling clay for assessing predation. Dummies are exposed in the field for 48 h and attack marks are used for determining predation rates.

For measuring dung depletion, we use cow dung as standardised bait. A defined quantity of dung is exposed for 48 h. Post-exposure weight of dung bait is used to quantify mass loss due to dung beetle activity.

Seed removal is measured with sunflower seeds placed on plastic trays. After 48 h, we count how many seeds have been consumed by animals.


Within the BELongDead experiment deadwood logs (length 4 m, diameter ca. 30 cm) of 13 tree species were exposed on a total of 30 plots. Since 2010, the emerging insects from those logs are caught with closed emergence traps. This allows us to analyse the role of forest management and tree species on the colonisation by deadwood insects. Additionally, we evaluate the role of deadwood insects in the decomposition of the logs in collaboration with other projects.

Hypotheses

  1. The community of deadwood insects differs in its diversity and composition among logs of different tree species.
  2. The diversity of the deadwood insect community is higher on native tree species compared to ‘exotic’ tree species.
  3. The diversity of the deadwood insect community is higher in natural forests compared to managed forests.
  4. The composition of the deadwood insect community changes during the course of the deadwood decomposition process.
  5. Abundance and diversity of deadwood insects have a positive influence on the decomposition rate.

Methods

One emergence trap (half-round metal arch with dark cloth attached to its sides, see picture B) was installed on one log per tree species in 2010. The emergence traps are equipped with transparent sampling jars, in which the freshly emerged deadwood insects are caught. At the end of each year, the emergence traps are moved by 30 cm on the log to enable new colonisation at the old position of the emergence trap.

Collage shows photos of project work on insect monitoring. Pictured are the installation of a cross window trap in the canopy, an emergence selector for recording dead wood insects, documentation of landing net trapping in grassland, logging of sampling, preparation for trap emptying in the forest, and emptying a cross window trap
A: Installation of a cross-window trap in the canopy, B: Emergence selector for recording deadwood insects, C: Documentation of the net catch in the grassland for a film about the exploratories, D: Logging of the sampling, E: Preparation for trap emptying in the forest, F: Emptying of a cross-window trap

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Ambarlı D., Simons N. K., Wehner K., Kämper W., Gossner M. M., Nauss T., Neff F., Seibold S., Weisser W. W., Blüthgen N. (2021): Animal-Mediated Ecosystem Process Rates in Forests and Grasslands are Affected by Climatic Conditions and Land-Use Intensity. Ecosystems 24, 467–483. doi: 10.1007/s10021-020-00530-7
More information:  link.springer.com
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Bae S., Heidrich L., Levick S. R., Gossner M. M., Seibold S., Weisser W. W., Magdon P., Serebryanyk A., Bässler C., Schäfer D., Schulze E.-D., Doerfler I., Müller J., Jung K., Heurich M., Fischer M., Roth N., Schall P., Boch S., Wöllauer S., Renner S. C., Müller J. (2021): Dispersal ability, trophic position and body size mediate species turnover processes: Insights from a multi‐taxa and multi‐scale approach. Diversity and Distributions 27 (3), 439-453. doi: 10.1111/ddi.13204
More information:  doi.org
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Evaluierung einer integrativen Wald-Naturschutzstrategie: Kann man Totholz anreichern und fördert dies die Biodiversität?
Dörfler I. (2017): Evaluation of an integrative strategy in forests: does deadwood enrichment work and increase biodiversity? Dissertation, TU München
More information:  mediatum.ub.tum.de
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Predation along a land-use gradient in German grasslands
Geisthardt M. (2015): Predation along a land-use gradient in German grasslands. Master thesis, TU München
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Insektenherbivorie begünstigt die Etablierung eines invasiven Pflanzenpathogens
Gossner M. M., Beenken L., Arend K., Begerow D., Peršoh D. (2021): Insect herbivory facilitates the establishment of an invasive plant pathogen. ISME Communications 1: 6. doi:10.1038/s43705-021-00004-4
More information:  doi.org
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Gossner M. M., Falck K., Weisser W. W. (2019): Effects of management on ambrosia beetles and their antagonists in European beech forests. Forest Ecology and Management 437, 126-133. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2019.01.034
More information:  doi.org
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Gossner M. M., Lewinsohn T., Kahl T., Grassein F., Boch S., Prati D., Birkhofer K., Renner S. C., Sikorski J., Wubet T., Arndt H., Baumgartner V., Blaser S., Blüthgen N., Börschig C., Buscot F., Diekötter T., Jorge L. R., Jung K., Keyel A. C., Klein A.-M., Klemmer S., Krauss J., Lange M., Müller J., Overmann J., Pašalić E., Penone C., Perović D. J., Purschke O., Schall P., Socher S. A., Sonnemann I., Tschapka M., Tscharntke T., Türke M., Venter P. C., Weiner C. N., Werner M., Wolters V., Wurst S., Westphal C., Fischer M., Weisser W. W., Allan E. (2016): Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenisation of grassland communities. Nature 540 (7632), 266–269. doi: 10.1038/nature20575
More information:  doi.org
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Auf der Suche nach der optimalen Fangflüssigkeit: Variation in Invertebraten-Gemeinschaften, Proben- und DNA-Qualität
Gossner M. M., Struwe J.-F., Sturm S., Max S., McCutcheon M., Weisser W. W., Zytynska S. E. (2016): Searching for the Optimal Sampling Solution: Variation in Invertebrate Communities, Sample Condition and DNA Quality. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148247. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148247
More information:  doi.org
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Gossner M. M., Wende B., Levick S., Schall P., Floren A., Linsenmair K. E., Steffan-Dewenter I., Schulze E.-D., Weisser W. W. (2016): Deadwood enrichment in European forests – Which tree species should be used to promote saproxylic beetle diversity? Biological Conservation 201, 92–102. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.06.032
More information:  doi.org
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Heidrich L., Bae S., Levick S., Seibold S., Weisser W. W., Krzystek P., Magdon P., Nauss T., Schall P., Serebryanyk A., Wöllauer S., Ammer C., Bässler C., Doerfler I., Fischer M., Gossner M. M., Heurich M., Hothorn T., Jung K., Kreft H., Schulze E.-D., Simons N., Thorn S., Müller J. (2020): Heterogeneity–diversity relationships differ between and within trophic levels in temperate forests. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4, 1204–1212. doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-1245-z
More information:  doi.org
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Comparison of forests and grasslands by observing ecological process rates
Vergleich der Ökosysteme Wald und Grasland anhand ökologischer Prozessraten
Irmscher V. M. (2020): Vergleich der Ökosysteme Wald und Grasland anhand ökologischer Prozessraten. Bachelor thesis, TU Darmstadt
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Predation along a land-use gradient in German forests
Kirchberger J. (2015): Predation along a land-use gradient in German forests. Master thesis, TU München
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Biodiversitätsschutz in Wäldern der gemäßigten Breiten Mitteleuropas: der Einfluss von Bewirtschaftungsintensität und Baumartenzusammensetzung
Leidinger J. (2020): Biodiversity conservation in temperate European forests: the roles of management intensity and tree species composition. Dissertation, Technische Universität München
More information:  mediatum.ub.tum.de
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Leidinger J., Seibold S., Weisser W. W., Lange M., Schall P., Türke M., Gossner M. M. (2019): Effects of forest management on herbivorous insects in temperate Europe. Forest Ecology and Management 437, 232-245. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2019.01.013
More information:  doi.org
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Meyer S. T., Heuss L., Feldhaar H., Weisser W. W., Gossner M. M. (2019): Land-use components, abundance of predatory arthropods, and vegetation height affect predation rates in grasslands. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 270–271, 84-92. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2018.10.015
More information:  doi.org
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Influence of forestry on dung beetle diversity
Der Einfluss von Forstwirtschaft auf Dungkäferdiversität
Mohr H. (2020): Influence of forestry on dung beetle diversity. Bachelor thesis, TU Darmstadt
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Kann die Multitaxa-Biodiversität in europäischen Buchenwaldlandschaften durch die Kombination verschiedener Managementsysteme erhöht werden?
Schall P., Heinrichs S., Ammer C., Ayasse M., Boch S., Buscot F., Fischer M., Goldmann K., Overmann J., Schulze E.-D., Sikorski J., Weisser W. W., Wubet T., Gossner M. M. (2020): Can multi‐taxa diversity in European beech forest landscapes be increased by combining different management systems? Journal of Applied Ecology 57 (7), 1363-1375. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13635
More information:  doi.org
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Einfluss von Klimaparametern und der Landnutzung auf die Ökosystemdienstleistung des Dungabbaus und dessen Variabilität
Schneider J. (2018): Einfluss von Klimaparametern und der Landnutzung auf die Ökosystemdienstleistung des Dungabbaus und dessen Variabilität. Bachelorarbeit, TU Darmstadt
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Bedeutung natürlicher Waldentwicklung für die Biodiversität
Seibold S. (2018): Bedeutung natürlicher Waldentwicklung für die Biodiversität. Allgemeine Forst Zeitschrift/Der Wald 20, 12-13
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Ursachen für Insektenrückgänge in Grünland und Wald sind auf Landschaftsebene zu finden
Seibold S., Gossner M., Simons N., Blüthgen N., Müller J., Ambarli D., Ammer C., Bauhus J., Fischer M., Habel J. C., Linsenmair, K.-E., Nauss T., Penone C., Prati D., Schall, P., Schulze, E.-D., Vogt, J., Wöllauer S., Weisser W. (2019): Arthropod decline in grasslands and forests is associated with landscape-level drivers. Nature 574, 671–674. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1684-3
More information:  doi.org
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Forstinventuren zeigen wie multifunktional wirtschaftlich genutzte Wälder sind
Simons N. K., Felipe-Lucia M. R., Schall P., Ammer C., Bauhus J., Blüthgen N., Boch S., Buscot F., Fischer M., Goldmann K., Gossner M. M., Hänsel F., Jung K., Manning P., Nauss T., Oelmann Y., Pena R., Polle A., Renner S. C., Schloter M., Schöning I., Schulze E.-D., Solly E., Sorkau E., Stempfhuber B., Wubet T., Müller J., Seibold S., Weisser W. W. (2021): National Forest Inventories capture the multifunctionality of managed forests in Germany. Forest Ecosystems 8, 5. doi: 10.1186/s40663-021-00280-5
More information:  doi.org
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Kontrastierende Effekte verschiedener Landnutzungsarten im Grassland auf die Arten-Abundanz-Verteilung mehrerer Gruppen
Simons N., Lewinsohn T., Blüthgen N., Buscot F., Boch S., Daniel R., Gossner M.M., Jung K., Kaiser K., Müller J., Prati D., Renner S., Socher S., Sonnemann I., Weiner C., Werner M., Wubet T., Wurst S., Weisser W. W (2017): Contrasting effects of grassland management modes on species-abundance distributions of multiple groups. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 237, 143–153. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2016.12.022
More information:  doi.org
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Eine Intensivierung der Landwirtschaft in von Grassland dominierten Landschaften ohne Verlust von Artenvielfalt ist möglich
Simons N., Weisser W. W. (2017): Agricultural intensification without biodiversity loss is possible in grassland landscapes. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, 1136–1145. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0227-2
More information:  doi.org
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Direkter und indirekter Einfluss von Landnutzung auf Schnecken-Gemeinschaften in Europa
Wehner K., Renker C., Brückner A., Simons N. K., Weisser W. W., Blüthgen N. (2019): Land‐use in Europe affects land snail assemblages directly and indirectly by modulating abiotic and biotic drivers. Ecosphere 10 (5), e02726. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.2726
More information:  doi.org
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Wehner K., Renker C., Simons N. K., Weisser W. W., Blüthgen N. (2021): Narrow environmental niches predict land-use responses and vulnerability of land snail assemblages. BMC Ecology and Evolution 21:15. doi: 10.1186/s12862-020-01741-1
More information:  doi.org
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Wehner K., Schuster R., Simons N., Norton R. A., Blüthgen N., Heethoff M. (2021): How land-use intensity affects sexual and parthenogenetic oribatid mites in temperate forests and grasslands in Germany. Experimental and Applied Acarology 83, 343–373. doi: 10.1007/s10493-020-00586-z
More information:  doi.org
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Wiesner K. R., Habel J. C., Gossner M. M., Loxdale H. D., Köhler G., Schneider A. R. R., Tiedemann R., Weisser W. W. (2014): Effects of habitat structure and land-use intensity on the genetic structure of the grasshopper species Chorthippus parallelus. The Royal Society Open Science. 1: 140133. doi: 10.1098/rsos.140133
More information:  doi.org

The so-called core projects of the BE emerged from the site selection project and the establishment of the exploratories (2006-2008). Since 2008, they have been providing the infrastructure and collecting important basic information on land use, diversity and ecosystem processes (long-term monitoring) for all projects. In addition, they coordinate project-wide activities such as various large-scale experiments.

Project in other funding periods

Invertebrates I (Core project)
#Animals  #2008 – 2011  #2006 – 2008  #Biodiversity […]
Arthropods I (Core project)
#Animals  #2011 – 2014  #Biodiversity […]

Scientific assistants

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Weisser
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Weisser
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Prof. Dr. Nico Blüthgen
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Nico Blüthgen
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Dr. Rafael Achury
Employee
Dr. Rafael Achury
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Dr. Didem Ambarli
Employee
Dr. Didem Ambarli
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Dr. Christian Hof
Employee
Dr. Christian Hof
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Dr. Sebastian Meyer
Employee
Dr. Sebastian Meyer
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Dr. Nadja Simons
Employee
Dr. Nadja Simons
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Pascal Edelmann
Employee
Pascal Edelmann
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Laura Argens
Employee
Laura Argens
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Dr. Michael Staab
Employee
Dr. Michael Staab
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Sven Rubanschi
Employee
Sven Rubanschi
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Petra Freynhagen
Employee
Petra Freynhagen
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Julia Füchtenschnieder
Employee
Julia Füchtenschnieder
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Kaspar Kremer
Employee
Kaspar Kremer
Dr. Katja Wehner
Employee
Dr. Katja Wehner
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Jan Leidinger
Employee
Jan Leidinger
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