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Department Head: 

Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein
phone:+49 (0)761 203-67770



Mrs. Ilona Winkler
phone:+49 (0)761 203-3635
fax:+49 (0)761 203-3638


Chair of Nature Conservation
& Landscape Ecology
University of Freiburg
Tennenbacher Str. 4
D-79106 Freiburg




Jena - Experiment

Aboveground plant-insect interaction webs and

associated processes along a plant diversity gradient




Prof. Alexandra-Maria Klein (Univ. Freiburg)

PhD student Jan-Hendrik Dudenhöffer


Project duration:

June 2013 - May 2016



Synthese Project duration:

2016 - 2018 (sp5 & sp7) 


sp5 (Consumer community structure and stability)

sp7 (Context-dependence of biodiversity effects and real-world perspective



DFG project


In the project we aim to understand how plant biodiversity influences higher order interactions with the aboveground animal community. As biodiversity is more than only the pure number of species within an ecosystem, but has further dimensions like the functional composition of the community, the project is carried out in the 2010 established “Trait-Based-Experiment” (TBE) within the framework of the “Jena-Experiment”. In the TBE not only the number of species, but also the functional diversity of plant communities is directly manipulated regarding ecophysiological plant traits linked to spatial and temporal resource acquisition.


We assume that the potential consequences of the different levels of plant species and plant functional diversity propagate through the ecosystem to higher order trophic levels, affecting their respective interactions with the plant community.   

In detail we focus on insect driven aboveground ecosystem services and dis-services like pollination and seed predation which are directly linked to plant reproduction. The success of generative plant reproduction can be seen as the result of a sequence of mutualistic and antagonistic interactions with the associated animals. In this context, we look at three major landmarks of this process: The successful pollination of the plant, the development of the seeds on the plant and the fate and dispersal of the ripened and released seeds. At every stage of this reproductive sequence, plant-animal interactions interfere with the process and may strongly impact its final outcome.



  • Dudenhöffer, J.H., Ebeling, A., Klein, A.M. & Wagg, C. (2018): Beyond biomass: soil feedbacks are transient over plant life-stages and alter fitness. Journal of Ecology 106: 230-241. Link
  • Dudenhöffer, J.H., Pufal, G., Roscher, C., & Klein, A.M. (2016): Plant density can increase invertebrate post-dispersal seed predation in an experimental grassland community. Ecology and Evolution 6: 3796-3807. Link


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