Multi-trophic Interactions in a Forest Biodiversity Experiment in China
BEF China serves as the foundational research platform for the MultiTroph project. It is the largest forest biodiversity experiment globally, located in subtropical China and initiated by the German Research Foundation ( DFG). BEF China aims to investigate the links between tree diversity, biomass production, element cycling, and species conservation. This ambitious endeavor seeks to shed light on how diverse communities of trees influence complex trophic interaction networks associated with plants. By conducting experiments in this unique ecological setting, researchers aim to uncover the mechanisms underlying the connections between biodiversity and ecosystem functions across various trophic levels.
The MultiTroph research unit uses the BEF China experiment to explore the intricate relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functions at different trophic levels. The interactions between different trophic and functional groups of consumers and their interactions with trees are quantified along an experimental gradient of tree diversity. The aim is to link these interactions into comprehensive and informative large food webs. By studying the effects of tree diversity on these interactions, the MultiTroph team aims to gain valuable insights into how biodiversity influences the stability and functioning of ecosystems.
Subproject 3 (SP3) within the MultiTroph initiative focuses on the comprehensive collection and analysis of data on the multitrophic system of plants, herbivores, and predators in response to changes in tree diversity. SP3 builds on previous studies by integrating three trophic levels – trees, plant-feeding arthropods, and predatory arthropods – and establishing connections between these communities. Innovative methods such as stoichiometry and gut content barcoding will be employed in collaboration with Chinese partners, alongside various sampling techniques to gather additional arthropod groups from different vegetation layers. Through SP3, we aim to test several key hypotheses about the impacts of tree diversity on abundance, species richness, and nutrient availability across trophic levels, providing crucial structural insights into the functioning of ecosystems in response to changes in plant diversity.
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