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The consequences of grazing: linking above- and belowground arthropod biodiversity, multi-trophic community structure and ecosystem functioning across grasslands of different productivity

English title The consequences of grazing: linking above- and belowground arthropod biodiversity, multi-trophic community structure and ecosystem functioning across grasslands of different productivity
Applicant Risch Anita Christina
Number 140939
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Swiss Federal Research Inst. WSL Direktion
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.03.2013 - 31.12.2015
Approved amount 317'202.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Ecology
Environmental Research
Botany
Zoology

Keywords (11)

Plant and soil properties; Above- and belowground arthropod diversity; Grazer-grassland interactions; Ecosystem processes; Plant species composition and biomass; Vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores; Grazing; Food-web; Exclosure experiment; Decomposition; Nitrogen mineralization

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Wir untersuchen Interaktionen zwischen Herbivoren-Gilden und Arthropoden-Gemeinschaften in Weide-Ökosystemen und erforschen deren Einfluss auf ober- und unterirdische Nahrungsnetze. Im Zentrum steht die Bedeutung dieser Interaktionen für die langfristige Erhaltung der Produktivität solcher Systeme.
Lay summary

Wir nutzen ein bereits seit 2009 bestehendes Zäunungsexperiment, in dem vier funktional verschiedene Herbivoren-Gilden sukzessive aus naturnahen Weide-Ökosystemen ausgeschlossen worden sind. Der sukzessive Ausschluss führte zu vielfältigen Reaktionen der Ökosysteme, beispielsweise in Eigenschaften wie ober- und unterirdischer Biomasse und Artenzusammensetzung der Vegetation, Biomasse und Zusammensetzung der mikrobiellen Gemeinschaften im Boden, Nährstoffgehalte der Vegetation und des Bodens, etc. Die Untersuchungen zeigten, dass neben Grossherbivoren (Hirsche, Gämsen) vor allem Arthropoden-Gemeinschaften eine Schlüsselfunktion zukommen dürfte. Arthropoden sind die artenreichste Komponente von terrestrischen Ökosystemen und spielen über mehrere trophische Stufen und folglich für verschiedenste Ökosystem-Funktionen eine zentrale Rolle. Wie sie jedoch konkret ihre Funktion in ober- und unterirdischen Nahrungsnetzen wahrnehmen und welche Konsequenzen das auf Ökosystem-Funktionen wirklich hat, ist weitgehend unklar. Die Ziele dieser Studie sind folglich 1) zu untersuchen wie funktional verschiedene Herbivoren-Gilden die Struktur und Vielfalt der Arthropoden-Gemeinschaften in trophische Kaskaden formen, 2) die Mechanismen, die diesen Interaktionen zu Grunde liegen zu identifizieren und deren Bedeutung zu bestimmen und 3) deren funktionale Auswirkung auf Abbau und Mineralisation von organischem Material zu prüfen. Die Studie liefert Erkenntnisse über die Bedeutung von Arthropoden für die langfristige und nachhaltige Bewahrung der Produktivität von Weide-Ökosystemen. Diese Erkenntnisse können partiell auch auf landwirtschaftliche Systeme übertragen werden, in denen Vieh funktional die wilden Huftiere ersetzt.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.11.2012

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Leaf trait variability between and within subalpine grassland species differs depending on site conditions and herbivory
Firn Jennifer, Nguyen Huong, Schütz Martin, Risch Anita C. (2019), Leaf trait variability between and within subalpine grassland species differs depending on site conditions and herbivory, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 286(1907), 20190429-20190429.
Size-dependent loss of aboveground animals differentially affects grassland ecosystem coupling and functions
Risch Anita C., Ochoa-Hueso Raul, van der Putten Wim W. H., Bump Joseph K., Busse Matt D., Frey Beat, Gwiazdowicz Dariusz J, Page-Dumroese Deborah S., Vandegehuchte Martijn L., Zimmermann Stephan, Schütz Martin (2018), Size-dependent loss of aboveground animals differentially affects grassland ecosystem coupling and functions, in Nature Communications, 9, 3684.
Progressively excluding mammals of different body size affects community and trait structure of ground beetles
Wang Xiaowei, Steiner Magdalena, Schütz Martin, Vandegehuchte Martijn L., Risch Anita C. (2018), Progressively excluding mammals of different body size affects community and trait structure of ground beetles, in Oikos, 127, 1515-1525.
Mammalian herbivores affect leafhoppers associated with specific plant functional types at different timescales
Vandegehuchte M.L., Trivellone V., Schütz M., Firn J., de Schaetzen F., Risch A.C. (2018), Mammalian herbivores affect leafhoppers associated with specific plant functional types at different timescales, in Functional Ecology, 32, 545-555.
Aboveground mammal and invertebrate exclusions cause consistent changes in soil food webs of two subalpine grassland types, but mechanisms are system-specific
Vandegehuchte Martin L., van der Putten Wim, Duyts Henk, Schuetz Martin, Risch Anita C. (2017), Aboveground mammal and invertebrate exclusions cause consistent changes in soil food webs of two subalpine grassland types, but mechanisms are system-specific, in Oikos, (126), 212-223.
Herbivores sculpt leaf traits differently in grasslands depending on life form and land-use histories
Firn Jennifer, Schütz Martin, Nguyen Huong, Risch Anita C. (2017), Herbivores sculpt leaf traits differently in grasslands depending on life form and land-use histories, in Ecology, (98), 239-252.
Mammal-induced trophic cascadesin invertebrate food webs are modulated by grazing intensity in subalpine grassland
Vandegehuchte M.L., Schütz M., de Schaetzen F., Risch A.C. (2017), Mammal-induced trophic cascadesin invertebrate food webs are modulated by grazing intensity in subalpine grassland, in Journal of Animal Ecology, 86, 1434-1446.
Description of the sexuales of Myzodium modestum (Hottes)(Hemiptera: Aphididae) discovered in the Swiss Alps
Perez Hidalgo Nicolas, Vandegehuchte Martijn L., Schütz Martin, Risch Anita C. (2016), Description of the sexuales of Myzodium modestum (Hottes)(Hemiptera: Aphididae) discovered in the Swiss Alps, in Zootaxa, 4196(4), 589-596.
Aboveground vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores impact on net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands of the Swiss Alps
Risch AC, Schütz M, Vandegehuchte ML, Van der Putten WH, Duyts H, Raschein U, Gwiazdowicz DJ, Busse MD, Page-Dumroese DS, Zimmermann S (2015), Aboveground vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores impact on net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands of the Swiss Alps, in Ecology, 96(12), 3312-3322.
Indirect short- and long-term effects of aboveground invertebrate and vertebrate herbivores on soil microarthropod communities
Vandegehuchte Martijn, Raschein U., Schütz M., Gwiazdowicz D.J., Risch A.C. (2015), Indirect short- and long-term effects of aboveground invertebrate and vertebrate herbivores on soil microarthropod communities, in PLos one, 10, 0118679.
Does the aboveground herbivore assemblage influence soil bacterial community composition and richness in subalpine grasslands
Hodel Melanie, Schütz Martin, Vandegehuchte Martijn, Frey Beat, Albrecht Matthias, Busse Matt D., Risch Anita C. (2014), Does the aboveground herbivore assemblage influence soil bacterial community composition and richness in subalpine grasslands, in Microbial Ecology, 68, 584-595.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
WSL / Dr. Valeria Trivellone Switzerland (Europe)
- Exchange of personnel
Michigan Technologial Univesity / Prof. Dr. Joseph Bump United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Department of Biology, Syracuse Unversity / Prof. Dr. Douglas A. Frank United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Grassland Sciences, ETH Zürich / Prof. Dr. Nina Buchmann Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Queensland University of Technology / Dr. Jennifer Firn & Dr. Huong Nguyen Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
USDA Forest Service / Dr. Matt D. Busse United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Community Ecology WSL-EPFL / Dr. Alexander Büttler Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Forest Soils & Biogeochemistry WSL / Dr. Stephan Zimmermann Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
USDA Forest Service / Dr. Debbie S. Page-Dumroese United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Community Ecology WSL-EPFL / Dr. Luca Bragazza Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Chinese Academy of Sciences / Intstitue of Applied Ecology / Dr. Xiaowei Wang China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Poznan University / Prof. Dr. Dariusz Gwiazdowicz Poland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Netherlands Institute of Ecology - NIOO / Prof. Wim van der Putten Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
The University of Western Sydney / Dr. Raul Ochoa-Hueso Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Leon Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Forest Soils & Biogeochemistry WSL / Dr. Beat Frey Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
FEEDING: first joint symposium of Ghent University, Université catholique de Louvain, & Université de Lille. Talk given at a conference Herbivore-initiated effects on above- and belowground components of subalpine grassland ecosystems. 21.04.2017 Ghent, Belgium Risch Anita Christina; Schütz Martin; Vandegehuchte Martijn;
Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting, Talk given at a conference Mammal-induced trophic cascades in invertebrate food webs are stronger in more intensively grazed subalpine grassland. 14.02.2017 Lunteren, Netherlands Vandegehuchte Martijn; Schütz Martin; Risch Anita Christina;
Ecology Across Borders, the joint annual meeting of the British Ecological Society (BES), the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfÖ), de Nederlands-Vlaamse Vereniging voor Ecologie (NecoV), and the European Ecological Federation (EEF Talk given at a conference Mammalian herbivores affect leafhoppers associated with specific plant functional types at different timescales. 11.12.2016 Ghent, Belgium Risch Anita Christina; Vandegehuchte Martijn; Schütz Martin;
Biology seminar series Individual talk Interactions and ecosystem functioning: from observational studies to multi-trophic experiments 06.11.2015 University of Tornoto, Canada Schütz Martin; Risch Anita Christina;
First Global Soil Biodiversity Converence - Assessing soil biodiversity and its role for ecosystem services Talk given at a conference Effects of aboveground herbivores of different body size on soil mesofauna communities in subalpine meadows 05.12.2014 Dijon, France Vandegehuchte Martijn; Risch Anita Christina; Schütz Martin;
Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference Effects of excluding aboveground herbivores of different body size on soil communities and processes in two vegetation types with different grazing history 10.08.2014 Sacramento, United States of America Risch Anita Christina; Schütz Martin; Vandegehuchte Martijn;
Community Ecology Meeting WSL Individual talk Effects of excluding aboveground herbivores of different body size on soil communities in two vegetation types with different grazing history 27.05.2014 Dallenwil, Switzerland Vandegehuchte Martijn; Risch Anita Christina; Schütz Martin;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Jahrestagung SCNAT Talk 25.09.2014 Lausanne, Switzerland Risch Anita Christina;
Volkshochschule Affoltern Talk 16.01.2014 Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland Risch Anita Christina;
Infoveranstaltung Mitarbeiter Nationalpark Talk 05.06.2013 Nationalpark, Switzerland Risch Anita Christina; Schütz Martin;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Wplyw bezkregowocow na dynamike funkcjonowania ekosystemu International 2019
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Ökosysteme: Die Blattlaus ist wichtiger als der Hirsch Cash.ch German-speaking Switzerland 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Biodiversität Wirbellose halten Ökosysteme am Laufen Umweltdialog German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: radio, television Blattlaus wichtiger als Hirsch Regionaljournal Graubünden German-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Die Blattlaus ist ökologisch wichtiger als der Hirsch NZZ German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Die Blattlaus wichtiger als der Hirsch Bote der Urschweiz German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Gehen die Weidetiere, schwindet die Vielfalt Diagonal WSL International German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Herbivores in grasslands influence what lives belowground Diagonal WSL International 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Herbivorous animals crucial to healthy ecosystems Technology.org International 2018
Media relations: radio, television Hirsch ist wichtiger als Blattlaus SRF Wissenschaftsmagazin International German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Impact des animaux de pâture sur la biodiversité Diagonal WSL Western Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Kleine Tiere mit grosser Wirkung Südostschweiz German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Kleine Tiere, grosse Wirkung Jagd & Natur Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Kleine Tiere, grosse Wirkung: Wirbellose halten Ökosysteme am Laufen iwd - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Le rôle capital des invertébrés Le Temps Western Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Les animaux herbivores dans la prairie influent sur les organismes souterrains Diagonal WSL Western Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media No sin los herbívoros: cuando ellos faltan, sus ecosistemas colapsan Sinc: la siencia es noticia International 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Ohne Schnecken und Raupen läuft nichts Higgs.ch German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Ökostystem: Die Blattlaus ist wichtiger als der Hirsch March Anzeiger German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Ökosystem: Die Blattlaus ist wichtiger als der Hirsch Basellandschaftliche Zeitung German-speaking Switzerland 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Ökosysteme: Die Blattlaus ist wichtiger als der Hirsch Watson.ch German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Ökosysteme: Die Blattlaus ist wichtiger als der Hisch Grenchener Tagblatt German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Pflanzenfressende Tiere auf der Wiese beeinflussen, was unterirdisch lebt Diagonal WSL German-speaking Switzerland 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Publikacja w nature communications wpływ bezkręgowców na dynamkę funkcjonowania ekosystemu Website University of Poznan International 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Raupen fressen gleichviel wie Hirsche Südostschweiz German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Research Roundup: Bike safety and city planning Minnesota Daily International 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Size-dependent loss of aboveground animals differentially affects grassland ecosystem coupling and f USDA Forest Service International 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Without grazing animals, diversity decreases Diagonal WSL International 2018
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) A coer de la nature:Résultat de cent ans de recherche sur les successions: le pâturages se maintient International Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland Western Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland 2015
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Ökosystem-forschung im Nationalpark: Von Produzenten und Konsumenten zu Nahrungsnetzen. Nationalpark Western Switzerland International Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland 2015
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) 100 Jahre Schweizerischer Nationalpark / WSL-intern Italian-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland International 2014
Talks/events/exhibitions Beziehungsnetze und Ökosystemprozesse: Gleichen sich diesem im Schweizerischen Nationalpark, der Ser German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: radio, television Ein Tag aus dem Schweizerischen Nationalpark SRF 1 Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Forschung im Schweizerischen Nationalpark: Dem Gras beim Wachsen Zuhören SRF INFO International 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Nature wird zum Taktgeber: Der Nationalpark als wichtige Referenzfläche NZZ German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Talks/events/exhibitions Sonderausstellung Schweizerischer Nationalpark Italian-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Treiben es die Hirsche zu bunt, müssen einige sterben Tierwelt German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Wissen schaffen: Ergebnis aus hundert Jahren Sukzessionsforschung: Die Weide bleibt. German-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland International 2014
Talks/events/exhibitions . Beziehungsnetze und Ökosystemprozesse: Gleichen sich diesem im Schweizerischen Nationalpark, der S German-speaking Switzerland 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
122009 Top-down effects of four herbivore groups of different body size on above- and belowground properties in grassland ecosystems of variable productivity 01.04.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Grasslands are among the earth’s most important ecosystems supporting diverse herbivore communities. Herbivores affect plant community composition, biomass, nutrient content or litter quality of shoots and roots with consequences on soil physical, chemical and biological properties, and essential ecosystem processes. The response of a grassland ecosystem to grazing may be highly dependent on its productivity and the intensity of grazing it receives. Despite the fact that diverse assemblages of different-sized vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores typically coexist in a grassland ecosystem, our understanding of the functioning of grazer-grassland interactions considering the combined effect of several herbivore groups on vegetation types of different productivity is still very limited. The ongoing project funded by the SNF (No. 31003A-122009) has started to shed light into these complex interactions and processes using a unique, highly replicated field experiment consisting of exclosure networks that gradually exclude four herbivore guilds of different body size. Data on plant, root and microbial biomass and nutrient content as well as on the composition of plant and microbial communities has been collected each season since 2009. The exclosure treatments function very well and have resulted in significant changes in important ecosystem properties. As predicted, the changes were generally more pronounced in the more productive grassland type and were primarily caused by large vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores. Consequently, the results from the ongoing study provide important insight into the functioning of grassland ecosystems grazed by multiple herbivore groups. However, the consequences of grazing by different herbivores on ecosystem processes are expected to reach beyond changes in plant, soil and microbial communities, with potential cascading effects across multiple trophic levels, thus shaping below- and aboveground communities. In particular, arthropods are key for understanding such processes as they constitute the most dominant component of terrestrial ecosystem biodiversity and play vital roles in performing a multitude of ecosystem functions. However, how the combined effect of alterations in herbivore communities and grassland productivity structures multi-trophic arthropod communities as well as above- and belowground food webs remains largely unexplored and the functional consequences on ecosystem processes poorly understood. Consequently, we propose to build on the findings gained from the ongoing project - taking advantage of the 2009 established experimental set up - to i) investigate how body-size structured grazer communities shape arthropod biodiversity and multi-trophic community structure, ii) identify and determine the relative importance of hypothesized, not mutually exclusive pathways underlying these effects, and iii) examine the functional consequences on decomposition and nutrient mineralization in grasslands of different productivity. Using a combination of field, experimental and laboratory methods, the proposed research will significantly contribute to a better understanding of the functioning of grazed grasslands by linking above- and belowground communities and ecosystem processes across different levels of grassland productivity. Such knowledge is essential to better predict herbivore-mediated ecosystem responses to current global change, including both herbivore losses and invasions through land use and climate change, pest outbreaks or re-immigration of large predators.
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