Vortrag im Kolloquium Biodiversität und Naturschutz


19. November 2019 17:15 – 19. November 2019 18:00

Kleiner Hörsaal (Altes MPI)


Plant herbivore interactions along environmental gradients

Biotic interactions between plants and invertebrates are notoriously context dependent. Hence, the impact of plant enemies, such as insect herbivores, on plant communities might vary with many abiotic and biotic factors. Understanding how they do so is one of the greatest current ecological challenges and would provide essential information for a range of pressing problems, from improving global change forecasts to predicting the efficacy of weed biocontrol.

In my talk I will focus on the question how plant-invertebrate interactions vary along a soil fertility gradient. While we have considerable information on how variation in soil fertility affects plants, we know little about its cascading effects on invertebrate herbivore biomass and their predators, and how herbivore impact on plant communities changes along resource gradients. Using an island chronosequence in northern Sweden where differently-sized islands vary considerably in fire history and thus productivity and soil fertility, I investigated whether invertebrate herbivore biomass and their impact on plants show coordinated responses to variation in soil fertility. In addition, in a large reciprocal transplant experiment with seedlings of Betula pubescens originating from different islands, I tested whether plants along the soil fertility gradient are locally adapted, and whether the drivers of local adaptation are abiotic (soil fertility) or biotic (differences in herbivore pressure). I will present first results offering insights into the context-dependency of biotic interactions, which is crucial if we want to better understand the effects of nutrient availability on ecosystems.


Dr. Anne Kempel
Universität Bern - Institut für Plant Sciences
Community Ecology