Response of ant assemblages to changing management practices in permanent grasslands of Central Germany
Abandonment and underuse result in loss of area and habitat quality of upland grasslands. In the present study we use ants as indicators for the assessment of land-use options for the maintenance of permanent grassland.
Permanent grasslands are key elements of European agricultural landscapes. However, traditional permanent grassland systems are threatened by either intensification or abandonment. In order to sustain both the productivity and habitat quality of permanent grasslands, innovative grassland systems and management strategies are needed. Soil biota such as ants play a key functional role for the ecological functioning and provision of ecosystem services. Hence, ants were chosen as target organisms of our study. The aim of this work is to evaluate grassland management, plant species composition (including plant functional traits) and environmental parameter variations over ant assemblage composition, richness and structure.
Policy makers, scientists, farmers, national heritage associations
Land use management induces important changes in soil structure and quality, as well as changes in vegetation composition and complexity. Such changes cause alterations in the habitat structure, microclimate or food supply for ants. Nevertheless, there are other biotic (mutualism, competition, predation) and abiotic (geographical and topographical variables) factors that may structure ant assemblages and explain their variation along different management regimes. In this sense, ant assemblage variations may be explained by a set of biological, environmental and historical factors within permanent grassland in central Germany.
The research work will focus on three major topics:
10.2015 - 9.2018
Project funding number: 57129429
Project status: ongoing