Subproject 11: Networks and energy fluxes (1 PhD position)

Principle Investigators: Stefan Scheu, University of Göttingen, Ulrich Brose, University of Jena & iDiv, Leipzig

Summary: The project addresses the quantitative structure and stability of soil food webs along the plant diversity gradients of the Main Experiment and the ResCUE Experiment of the Research Unit 5000. The project is based on the assumption that changes in plant community diversity and composition exert bottom-up effects on the structure of and energy flux through soil food webs. The project focuses on (1) the role of plant diversity for the temporal (seasonal) and spatial (depth distribution) stability of the structure of belowground communities, (2) the role of plant diversity for the temporal (seasonal) and spatial (depth distribution) stability of energy channeling through belowground communities, and (3) the response of the structure of and the energy flux through the belowground community to plant diversity and a hot drought disturbance.

The energy-flux analyses will focus on broad functional groups, such as primary and secondary decomposers, herbivores, as well as predators. This will be complemented by more detailed analyses using compound-specific analysis of stable isotopes of amino acids allowing to separate the fluxes into the bacterial-, fungal-, and plant-based energy channels. The resulting data will provide unique insights into variations in the energetic structure of soil food webs as affected by plant diversity. Differences in energy fluxes to belowground consumers will result in significant feedback effects that will be key to mechanistically explain biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships through multi-trophic interactions.

Available positions: 1 PhD student

Job advertisement:

Contact: Prof. Dr. Stefan Scheu (

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