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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Stadler, B; Solinger, St; Michalzik, B: Insect herbivores and the nutrient flow from the canopy to the soil in coniferous and deciduous forests, Oecologia, 126, 104-113 (2001)
Phytophagous insects can have severe impacts on forested ecosystems in outbreak situations but their contribution to flows of energy and matter is otherwise not so well known. Identifying the role of phytophagous insects in forested ecosystems is partly hindered by the difficulty of combining results from population and community ecology with those from ecosystem ecology. In our study we compared the effects of aphids and leaf feeding lepidopterous larvae on the epiphytic micro-organisms in the canopies of spruce, beech and oak and on the vertical flow of energy and nutrients from the canopies down to the forest floor. We particularly searched for patterns resulting from endemic herbivory rather than outbreak situations.
Excreta of lepidopterous larvae and aphids promoted the growth of epiphytic micro-organisms (bacteria, yeasts, filamentous fungi) on needles and leaves which suggests that micro-organisms were energy limited. Leachates from needles and leaves of infested trees contained higher concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and lower concentrations of NH4-N and NO3-N, relative to uninfested trees. The seasonal abundance of herbivores and micro-organisms significantly affected the dynamics of throughfall chemistry; for instance, lower concentrations of inorganic nitrogen were found underneath infested than uninfested trees during June and July. There was little difference between the chemistry of soil solutions collected from the forest floor beneath infested and uninfested trees. Thus, under moderate to low levels of infestation the effects of above ground herbivory seems to be obscured in the soil through buffering biological processes. Neue Seite 1


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