Biodiversity is under thread by land use, climate change and biological invasions. Currently, we particularly focus on land-use impacts on biodiversity and species composition of insect communities in central European grasslands and forests (see 'Biodiversity Exploratories'). We investigate different aspects of biodiversity, including heterogeneity of communities (beta-diversity) or variation in functional traits and species' responses to environmental conditions (trait diversity, response diversity).
We investigate factors that influence the stability and plasticity of ecosystems in the presence of land use such as mowing, grazing or fertilization. Based on feeding experiments and stoichiometrical analyses of herbivorous grassland insects, we try to understand the ability to regulate the oversupply or lack of nutrients, and we relate this to each species' distribution and community composition. Responses of Auchenorrhyncha, Orthoptera and Heteroptera to land-use intensification are investigated on the community and single-species level.
Dung beetles are viewed as ‘ecosystem engineers’ and play a key role in decomposition processes. Besides their usage in biodiversity monitoring, they contribute to soil nutrient quality and removal of breeding grounds for pests. We focus on dung beetle community responses and ecosystem services along broad gradients of land use intensity in forests and grasslands.
--> Kevin Frank, Nico Blüthgen