Response of Soil Biota to Changes in Plant Diversity and Consequences for Feedbacks to Plant Communities

Decomposer soil animals strongly influence soil microorganisms by changing their nutrient supply (e. g. Collembola) and habitat structure (e. g. earthworms). Thereby soil invertebrates modify mineralization processes and nutrient availability of plant communities.
Inversely also plants may affect soil organisms by carbon sources like plant residues and root exudates. Besides resource quantity probably also resource quality and heterogeneity influence belowground diversity.
The aim of my studies in the context of the Jena Experiment is to reveal responsible mechanisms in the interactions of soil fauna and plant community. Therefore I manipulate earthworm density in the field and analyze impacts on the plant community. And I compare communities of soil macro- and mesofauna underneath different plant diversity levels.
Additionally to the field work, my colleague Tanja Strecker and I prepare an experiment in a climate chamber to test converse effects of manipulated plant and decomposer species diversity.
My work is supervised by Nico Eisenhauer.