Lisa HeussDoctoral student
left to right: study site, ant colony, aphids on a plant
The subject of my PhD thesis is the impact of landuse intensity on ant communities in grasslands.
Ants are an important part of ecosystems, because they act as ecosystem engineers, which modify the structure as well as the composition of microorganisms in the soil. Apart from that ants provide ecosystem services such as seed dispersal and may also influence the composition of plant species through consumption of seeds.
In temperate grasslands the effects of mowing, fertilization and grazing on ant biodiversity are not well understood yet. As ant species differ in foraging strategies and trophic niches landuse may affect different species in different ways. This should be investigated during my graduation.
A change in availability of prey or honeydew, containing large amounts of sugar from throphobionts, could result in changes of the present ant species or in adaptations of foraging strategies of ants. These will be examined in stable isotope analysis.
Apart from that all appearing ant and aphid species will be identified, to make further statements on community compositions in different intensities of landuse.
My project is integrated in the Biodiversity Exploratories, a long term investigation area, founded by the German Research Foundation. In the Biodiversity Exploratories changes in Biodiversity and the influence of these changes on ecosystem processes are investigated by different research groups.
German Research Foundation
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Gebauer, University of Bayreuth