Effects of tree and herb biodiversity on Diptera, a hyperdiverse insect order

Christoph ScherberTeja Tscharntke


Biodiversity experiments have shown that plant diversity has largely positive effects on insect diversity and abundance. However, such relationships have rarely been studied in undisturbed and more complex ecosystems such as forests. Flies (Diptera) are among the most dominant taxa in temperate ecosystems, influencing many ecosystem processes. As it is unknown how Diptera respond to changes in forest biodiversity, we examined how community characteristics of Diptera respond to varying levels of tree and herb diversity and vegetation structure. The study was conducted in the Hainich National Park (Central Germany) on 84 plots along a gradient of tree (from two to nine species) and herb (from two to 28 species) diversity. We found that herb and canopy cover as well as spatial effects were the best predictors of Diptera community composition, consisting of 62 families, including 99 Empidoidea and 78 Phoridae species. Abundance of Empidoidea was positively influenced by herb diversity, indicating bottom-up control. A complex causal pathway influenced Dipteran species richness: species-rich forest stands, with low beech cover, had lower canopy cover, resulting in higher Dipteran species richness. In addition, Diptera benefited from ...Continue Reading


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