Subproject 10: Consumers and functions (1 PhD position)

Principle Investigators: Anne Ebeling, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena; Sebastian T. Meyer, Technical University of Munich


Invertebrates in grasslands are highly diverse and essential for trophic interactions and ecosystem functioning. Plant diversity begets invertebrate diversity. However, variable environmental conditions and extremes particularly related to ongoing climate change induce fluctuations in these relationships. Thus, it is essential to investigate the temporal dynamics in consumer communities and their drivers and to identify buffering mechanisms because these can have profound implications for the stability and functioning of entire food webs.

We will use a combination of statistical analyses of long-term data series, field measurements and targeted microcosm experiments. We will quantify two essential functions (herbivory and predation) together with the investigation of the consumer communities, both, in the field and in microcosm experiments. Combining these approaches, we will study three research questions: 1) What causes temporal variability in consumer communities and associated functions? 2) Does plant diversity have a stabilizing effect on invertebrate consumer communities and associated ecosystem functions? 3) Which dynamics and properties of the consumer communities underlie these effects?

With this project and its holistic approach, the PhD student will understand the interplay between plants and higher trophic levels, apply advanced statistical methods on time-series data, and further our knowledge on the dynamics of the functioning of consumer and plant communities.

Available positions: 1 PhD student

Job advertisement:

Contact: PD Dr. Anne Ebeling (