Dr. Michael Staab

since 2020

Postdoc, Ecological Networks, Technical University Darmstadt

2014 - 2020

Lecturer/postdoc (equivalent to assistant professor), Department of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, University of Freiburg

2017 -2018

Junior Fellow, Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), University of Freiburg

2011 - 2014

PhD thesis: "Effect of tree diversity on plant-insect interactions in a Chinese subtropical forest" at the Leuphana University Lüneburg (‘summa cum laude’)

2013 - 2014

Research assistant, Department of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, University of Freiburg

2011 - 2013

Research assistant, Department of Ecosystem Functions, Leuphana University Lüneburg

2010 - 2011

Research assistant, Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg

2005 - 2010

Study of Biology at the University of Würzburg

Diploma thesis: “The mating biology of the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri" (with 'distinction')

Editorial board member for Biotropica and Zoological Systematics

Reviewer for 41 journals (so far 92 peer-reviews for 64 manuscripts) and 5 funding agencies

 Research interests     


I am an ecologist and entomologist with a special interest in biodiversity research and insects. Originally, I have mostly focused on tropical ants, while in the last years I tend to address questions related to community ecology and trophic interactions from a biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) perspective. Nevertheless, as long as animals are involved, I am fascinated by and engaged in many topics, from taxonomy and systematics, to host-parasitoid interactions, to (phylo)genetic diversity, among others.

At Econetlab, I am part of the Arthropods Core team of the Biodiversity Exploratories.

For more information on my research and professional activities, please have a look at my homepage staabmichael.wordpress.com.



michael.staab1 (at) tu-darmstadt.de

B1|01, Room 259

Dr. Michael Staab

Ecological Networks

Department of Biology

Technische Universität Darmstadt

Schnittspahnstr. 3

64287 Darmstadt



Phone +49 6151 16-75416

Accepted and Early view

Wu D, Pietsch KA, Staab M, Yu M (2020) Wood species identity alters dominant factors driving fine wood decomposition along a tree diversity gradient in subtropical plantation forests. Biotropica, accepted.

Staab M, Pereira-Peixoto MH, Klein AM (2020) Exotic garden plants partly substitute for native plants as resources for pollinators when native plants become seasonally scarce. Oecologia, online first. >Open Access (Staab & Pereira-Peixoto share the first authorship)

Poeydebat C, Jactel H, Moreira X, Koricheva J, Barsoum N, Bauhus N, Eisenhauer N, Ferlian O, Francisco M, Gottschall F, Gravel D, Mason B, Muiruri E, Muys B, Nock C, Paquette A, Ponette Q, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Stokes V, Staab M, Verheyen K, Castagneyrol B (2020) Climate affects neighbour-induced changes in leaf chemical defences and tree diversity-herbivory relationships. Functional Ecology, online first. >Link

Staab M, Schuldt A (2020) The influence of tree diversity on natural enemies - A review of the 'enemies' hypothesis in forests. Current Forestry Reports, online first. >Open Access



[42] Knuff AK, Staab M, Dormann CF, Frey J, Asbeck T, Klein AM (2020) Insect abundance in managed forests benefits from multi-layered vegetation. Basic and Applied Ecology 48: 124–135. >Link

[41] Wang MQ, Li Y, Chesters D, Bruelheide H, Ma K, Guo PF, Zhou QS, Staab M, Zhu CD, Schuldt A (2020) Host functional and phylogenetic composition rather than host diversity structure plant-herbivore networks. Molecular Ecology 29: 2747–2762. >Open Access

[40] Storch I, Penner J, Asbeck T, Basile M, Bauhus J, Braunisch V, Dormann CF, Frey J, Gärtner S, Hanewinkel M, Koch B, Klein AM, Kuss T, Pregernig M, Pyttel P, Reif A, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Segelbacher G, Schraml U, Staab M, Winkel G, Yousefpour R (2020) Analysing the effectiveness of retention forestry to enhance biodiversity in production forests of Central Europe using an interdisciplinary, multi-scale approach. Ecology and Evolution 10: 1489–1509. >Open Access

[39] Skarbek CJ, Noack M, Bruelheide H, Härdtle W, von Oheimb G, Scholten T, Seitz S, Staab M (2020) A tale of scale: community but not neighborhood tree diversity increases leaf litter ant diversity. Journal of Animal Ecology 89: 299–308. >Open Access (recommended by F1000)

[38] Bongers F, Schmid B, Sun Z, Li Y, Härdtle W, von Oheimb G, Li Y, Li S, Staab M, Ma K, Liu X (2020) Growth–trait relationships in subtropical forest are stronger at higher diversity. Journal of Ecology 108: 256–266. >Open Access


[37] Staab M (2019) Plagiolepis alluaudi Emery, 1894, a globally spreading exotic ant (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) newly recorded from Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 74: 83–91. >Open Access

[36] von Königslöw V, Klein AM, Staab M, Pufal G (2019) Benchmarking nesting aids for cavity-nesting bees and wasps. Biodiversity and Conservation 28:  3831–3849. >Link

[35] Knuff AK, Staab M, Frey J, Helbach J, Klein AM (2019) Plant composition, not richness, drives occurrence of specialist herbivores. Ecological Entomology 44: 833–843. >Link

[34] Knuff AK, Winiger N, Klein AM, Segelbacher G, Staab M (2019) Optimising sampling of flying insects using a modified window trap. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 10: 1820–1825. >Open Access

[33] Schuldt A, Ebeling A, Kunz M, Staab M, Guimarães-Steinicke C, Bachmann D, Buchmann N, Durka W, Fichtner A, Fornoff F, Härdtle W, Hertzog L, Klein AM, Roscher C, Schaller J, von Oheimb G, Weigelt A, Weisser W, Wirth C, Zhang J, Bruelheide H, Eisenhauer N (2019) Multiple plant diversity components drive consumer communities across ecosystems. Nature Communications 10: 1460. >Open Access

[32] Fornoff F, Klein AM, Blüthgen N, Staab M (2019) Tree diversity increases robustness of multi-trophic interactions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286: 20182399. >Open Access

[31] Pauli T, Castillo-Cajas RF, Rosa P, Kukowka S, Berg A, van den Berghe E, Fornoff F, Hopfenmüller S, Niehuis M, Peters RS, Staab M, Strumia F, Tischendorf S, Schmitt T, Niehuis O (2019) Phylogenetic analysis of cuckoo wasps (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae) reveals a partially artificial classification at the genus level and a species-rich clade of bee parasitoids. Systematic Entomology 44: 322–335. >Link


[30] Staab M, Pufal G, Tscharntke T, Klein AM (2018) Trap nests for bees and wasps to analyze trophic interactions in changing environments – a systematic overview and user guide. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 9: 2226–2239. >Link (Cover illustration, associated post on methodsblog.com)

[29] Liu X, Trogisch S, He JS, Niklaus PA, Bruelheide H, Tang Z, Erfmeier A, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Pietsch KA, Yang B, Kühn P, Scholten T, Huang Y, Wang C, Staab M, Leppert K, Wirth C, Schmid B, Ma K (2018) Tree species richness increases ecosystem carbon storage in subtropical forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285: 20181240. >Open Access (This article has a correction:  >Link)

[28] Schuldt A, Assmann T, Brezzi M, Buscot F, Eichenberg D, Gutknecht J, Härdtle W, He JS, Klein AM, Kühn P, Liu X, Ma K, Niklaus PA, Pietsch KA, Purahong W, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Schmid B, Scholten T, Staab M, Tang Z, Trogisch S, von Oheimb G, Wirth C, Wubet T, Zhu CD, Bruelheide H (2018) Biodiversity across trophic levels drives multifunctionality in highly diverse forests. Nature Communications 9: 2989. >Open Access

[27] Staab M, Hita Garcia F, Liu C, Xu ZH, Economo EP (2018) Systematics of the ant genus Proceratium Roger (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Proceratiinae) in China – with descriptions of three new species based on micro-CT enhanced next-generation-morphology. ZooKeys 770: 137–192. >Open Access (Staab & Hita Garcia contributed equally)

[26] Grossman JJ, Vanhellemont M, Barsoum N, Bauhus J, Bruelheide H, Castagneyrol B, Cavender-Bares J, Eisenhauer N, Ferlian O, Gravel D, Hector A, Jactel H, Kreft H, Mereu S, Messier C, Muys B, Nock C, Paquette A, Parker J, Perring MP, Ponette Q, Reich PB, Schuldt A, Staab M, Weih M, Zemp DC, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K (2018) Synthesis and future research directions linking tree diversity to growth, survival, and damage in a global network of tree diversity experiments. Environmental and Experimental Botany 152: 68–89. >Link

[25] Janssen A, Hunger H, Konold W, Pufal G, Staab M (2018) Simple pond restoration measures increase dragonfly (Insecta: Odonata) diversity. Biodiversity and Conservation 27: 2311–2328. >Link

[24] Binkenstein J, Klein AM, Assmann T, Buscot F, Erfmeier A, Ma K, Pietsch KA, Schmidt K, Scholten T, Wubet T, Bruelheide H, Schuldt A, Staab M (2018) Multi-trophic guilds respond differently to changing elevation in a subtropical forest. Ecography 41: 1013–1023. >Open Access (Binkenstein & Staab contributed equally)

[23] Cao H, Klein AM, Zhu CD, Staab M, Durka W, Fischer M, Fornoff F (2018) Intra- and interspecific tree diversity promotes multitrophic plant–Hemiptera–ant interactions in a forest diversity experiment. Basic and Applied Ecology 29: 89–97. >Link

[22] Müller M, Klein AM, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Nock C, Staab M (2018) Tree genetic diversity increases arthropod diversity in willow short rotation coppice. Biomass & Bioenergy 108: 338–344. >Link


[21] Trogisch S, Schuldt A, Bauhus J, Blum JA, Both S, Buscot F, Castro-Izaguirre N, Chesters D, Durka W, Eichenberg D, Erfmeier A, Fischer M, Geißler C, Germany MS, Goebes P, Gutknecht J, Hahn CZ, Haider S, Härdtle W, He JS, Hector A, Hönig L, Huang Y, Klein AM, Kühn P, Kunz M, Leppert KN, Li Y, Liu X, Niklaus PA, Pei Z, Pietsch KA, Prinz R, Proß T, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Schmidt K, Scholten S, Seitz S, Song Z, Staab M, von Oheimb G, Weißbecker C, Welk E, Wirth C, Wubet T, Yang B, Yang X, Zhu CD, Schmid B, Ma K, Bruelheide H (2017) Towards a methodical framework for comprehensively assessing forest multifunctionality. Ecology and Evolution 7: 10652–10674. >Open Access

[20] Schuldt A, Fornoff F, Bruelheide H, Klein AM, Staab M (2017). Tree species richness attenuates the positive relationship between mutualistic ant-hemipteran interactions and leaf chewer herbivory. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284: 20171489. >Open Access

[19] Schuldt A, Bruelheide H, Assmann T, Buscot F, Erfmeier A, Klein AM, Ma K, Scholten T, Staab M, Wirth C, Zhang J, Wubet T (2017) Belowground top-down and aboveground bottom-up effects structure multitrophic communities in a biodiverse forest. Scientific Reports 7: 4222. >Open Access

[18] Staab M, Fornoff F, Klein AM, Blüthgen N (2017) Ants at plant wounds – A little-known trophic interaction with evolutionary implications for ant-plant interactions. American Naturalist 190: 442–450. >Link

[17] Staab M, Methorst J, Peters J, Blüthgen N, Klein AM (2017) Tree diversity and nectar composition affect arthropod visitors on extrafloral nectaries in a diversity experiment. Journal of Plant Ecology 10: 201–212. (selected as ‘Editor’s Choice’) >Open Access


[16] Wein A, Bauhus J, Bilodeau-Gauthier S, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Nock C, Staab M (2016) Tree species richness promotes invertebrate herbivory on congeneric native and exotic tree saplings in a young diversity experiment. PLOS ONE 11: e0168751. >Open Access

[15] Staab M, Bruelheide H, Durka W, Michalski S, Purschke O, Zhu CD, Klein AM (2016) Tree phylogenetic diversity promotes host-parasitoid interactions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283: 20160275. (Cover illustration) >Open Access

[14] Peixoto-Pereira MH, Pufal G, Staab M, Martins CF, Klein AM (2016) Diversity and specificity of host-natural enemy interactions in an urban-rural interface. Ecological Entomology 41: 241–252. >Link


[13] Schuldt A, Wubet T, Buscot F, Staab M, Assmann T, Böhnke-Kammerlander M, Both S, Erfmeier A, Klein AM, Ma K, Pietsch K, Schultze S, Wirth C, Zhang J, Zumstein P, Bruelheide H (2015) Multitrophic diversity in a biodiverse forest is highly nonlinear across spatial scales. Nature Communications 6: 10169. >Open Access

[12] Staab M (2015) Aenictus hoelldobleri sp. n., a new species of the Aenictus ceylonicus group (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from China, with a key to the Chinese members of the group. ZooKeys 516: 137–155.  >Open Access

[11] Schuldt A, Staab M (2015) Tree species richness strengthens relationships between ants and the functional composition of spider assemblages in a highly diverse forest. Biotropica 47: 339–346. >Link

[10] Staab M, Blüthgen N, Klein AM (2015) Tree diversity alters the structure of a tri-trophic network in a biodiversity experiment. Oikos 124: 827–834. (selected as ‘Editor’s Choice’) >Link

[9] Staab M, Ohl M, Zhu CD, Klein AM (2015) Observational natural history and morphological taxonomy are indispensable for future challenges in biodiversity and conservation. Communicative and Integrative Biology 8: e992745. (invited addendum article commenting on A unique nest-protection strategy in a new species of spider wasp) >Open Access


[8] Staab M, Schuldt A, Assmann T, Bruelheide H, Klein AM (2014) Ant community structure during forest succession in a subtropical forest in South-East China. Acta Oecologica 61: 32–40. >Link


[7] Staab M, Ohl M, Zhu CD Klein AM (2014) A unique nest-protection strategy in a new species of spider wasp. PLOS ONE 9: e101592. >Open Access
(Staab & Ohl share the first authorship; broad coverage in national and international media, e.g. Daily Mail, IFLScience, National Geographic, Süddeutsche Zeitung; highlighted in Nature; selected for the Top 10 New Species 2015)

[6] Staab M, Schuldt A, Assmann T, Klein AM (2014) Tree diversity promotes predator but not omnivore ants in a subtropical Chinese forest. Ecological Entomology 39: 637–647. >Link

[5] Staab M (2014) A new species of the Aenictus wroughtonii group (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from South-East China. ZooKeys 391: 65–73. >Open Access

[4] Staab M (2014) The first observation of honeydew foraging in army ants since 1933: Aenictus hodgsoni Forel, 1901 tending Eutrichosiphum heterotrichum (Raychaudhuri, 1956) in Southeast China. Asian Myrmecology 6: 115–118. >Open Access

[3] Staab M, Kleineidam CJ (2014) Initiation of swarming behavior and synchronization of mating flights in the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri FOREL, 1893 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 19: 93–102. >Open Access

[2] Floren A, Wetzel W, Staab M (2014) The contribution of canopy species to overall ant diversity (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in temperate and tropical ecosystems. Myrmecological News 19: 65–74. >Open Access


​[1] Menzel F, Staab M, Chung AY, Gebauer G, Blüthgen N (2012) Trophic ecology of parabiotic ants: Do the partners have similar food niches? Austral Ecology 37: 537–546. >Link

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