Contrasting effects of plant diversity on β- and γ-diversity of grassland invertebrates

A. Ebeling, E. W. Lind, S. T. Meyer, A. D. Barnes, E. T. Borer, N. Eisenhauer, W. W. Weisser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The diversity of primary producers strongly affects the structure and diversity of species assemblages at other trophic levels. However, limited knowledge exists of how plant diversity effects at small spatial scales propagate to consumer communities at larger spatial scales. We assessed arthropod community β and γ-diversity in response to experimentally manipulated plant community richness in two long-term grassland biodiversity experiments (Jena, Germany and Cedar Creek, USA) replicated over two years. We calculated arthropod species turnover among all plot combinations (β-diversity), and accumulated number of arthropod species occurring on (1) all pairwise plot combinations and (2) 40 randomly selected six-plot combinations (γ-diversity). The components of arthropod diversity were tested against two measures of plant diversity, namely average plant α-diversity ((Formula presented.)) and the average difference in plant α-diversity between plots (ΔPSR). Whereas (Formula presented.) points to the overall importance of plant α-diversity for arthropod community turnover and diversity on a larger scale, ΔPSR represents the role of habitat heterogeneity. We demonstrate that arthropod γ-diversity is supported by high, homogeneous plant α-diversity, despite lower arthropod β-diversity among high- compared to low-diversity plant communities. We also show that, in six-plot combinations, average plant α-diversity has a positive influence on arthropod γ-diversity only when homogeneity in plant α-diversity is also high. Varying heterogeneity in six-plot combinations showed that combinations consisting solely of plots with an intermediate level of plant α-diversity support a higher number of arthropod species compared to combinations that contain a mix of high- and low-diversity plots. In fact, equal levels of arthropod diversity were found for six-plot combinations with only intermediate or high plant α-diversity, due to saturating benefits of local and larger-scale plant diversity for higher trophic levels. Our results, alongside those of recent observational studies, strongly suggest that maintaining high α-diversity in plant communities is important for conserving multiple components of arthropod diversity. As arthropods carry out a range of essential ecosystem functions, such as pollination and natural pest-control, our findings provide crucial insight for effective planning of human-dominated landscapes to maximize both ecological and economic benefits in grassland systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere03057
JournalEcology
Volume101
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the technical staff of the Jena Experiment for their work in maintaining the experimental field site and also many student helpers for weeding of the experimental plots and support during measurements. Further, we thank Roland Achtziger, Eric Anton, Theo Blick, Frank Creutzburg, Ralf Heckmann, Christoph Muster, and Oliver Wiche for their tremendous work with identifying arthropod individuals, and Maximilian Fraulob and Darren Giling for compiling the consumer data set. This work was supported by the German Science Foundation (DFG FOR 1451). Nico Eisenhauer was supported by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, funded by the German Research Foundation (FZT 118). Work at Cedar Creek was supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Program (LTER), including DEB-0620652 and DEB-1234162 and by the University of Minnesota. We especially thank J. Haarstad for arthropod collection and identification work, as well as D. Tilman, T. Mielke, and many Cedar Creek LTER scientists and summer interns.

Funding Information:
We thank the technical staff of the Jena Experiment for their work in maintaining the experimental field site and also many student helpers for weeding of the experimental plots and support during measurements. Further, we thank Roland Achtziger, Eric Anton, Theo Blick, Frank Creutzburg, Ralf Heckmann, Christoph Muster, and Oliver Wiche for their tremendous work with identifying arthropod individuals, and Maximilian Fraulob and Darren Giling for compiling the consumer data set. This work was supported by the German Science Foundation (DFG FOR 1451). Nico Eisenhauer was supported by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig, funded by the German Research Foundation (FZT 118). Work at Cedar Creek was supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation Long‐Term Ecological Research Program (LTER), including DEB‐0620652 and DEB‐1234162 and by the University of Minnesota. We especially thank J. Haarstad for arthropod collection and identification work, as well as D. Tilman, T. Mielke, and many Cedar Creek LTER scientists and summer interns.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the Ecological Society of America

Keywords

  • Cedar Creek biodiversity experiment
  • Jena Experiment
  • aboveground consumers
  • arthropods
  • biodiversity experiment
  • spatial scale

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