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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.