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






Aboveground multi-trophic plant-insect interactions

in a Chinese subtropical forest




Prof. Alexandra-Maria Klein (Univ. Freiburg)

Prof. Thorsten Assmann (Univ. Lüneburg)

Prof. Chao-Dong Zhu  (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing)

Dr. Michael Staab  (1. Phase)            

PhD student Felix Fornoff  (2. Phase)




Project duration:

1st phase: April 2011-March 2014

2nd phase: June 2014-May 2016



DFG Project / subproject in BEF China

Subprojekt 9




Plant biodiversity, phylogeny and site productivity shape the complexity of multi-trophic interactions, which in turn, can influence plant performance and community structure. Most research on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning has so far been conducted in grasslands, neglecting forest ecosystems that harbor the majority of the planets species diversity. To understand the role of tree diversity, composition, and tree species extinction for ecosystem processes analyses of multi-trophic interactions are crucial.

We focus on the multi-trophic interaction structure of two food web systems: cavity-nesting Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) and their natural enemies (system 1), as well as trophobioses between plants, sap-sucking aphids, and honey-dew collecting ants (system 2).

Analyses of network structure of both systems in relation to tree diversity will help to reveal possible effects of plant diversity on higher trophic levels. Moreover using system 2 (plants, aphids and ants) we will link phylogenetic information of all three trophic levels to their network structure to test if the observed networks are shaped by evolutionary conserved relationships..

This sub-project of the BEF-China provides year-round data on trophic cascades and food web structure. Such data are critical to study the role of top-down versus bottom-up effects for a better understanding of how plant diversity might stabilize forest ecosystems. 





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