Biolog Diva-Jena (completed)


2000 - 2010
BMBF Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

Contact: Wolfgang.Weisser[at]


The collaborative BIOLOG DIVA-Jena research project 'The relationship between Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in Grassland Ecosystems' funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) between 2000 and 2010 used extensively managed grasslands in the states of Thuringia and Bavaria as model ecosystems, to study the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Using a gradient in plant species richness a finding of the project was that there was a relationship between plant species richness and ecosystem variables also in these semi-natural ecosystems. The Weisser group was responsible for the overall coordination of the project and for investigating plant-insect interactions. Particular findings were:

  • The effect of excluding arthropods and slugs from grasslands on grassland biomass was small and variable, but the effects were dependent on plant species richness (Stein et al. 2010)
  • Abundances and fitness of grasshoppers were positively related to plant species richness (Unsicker et al. 2010)
  • Laboratory experiments showed that grasshopper fitness was enhanced by increasing the diversity of food plants (Unsicker et al. 2009) but that
  • Local plant species richness could be enhanced by sowing of native species but the success and the resulting change in biomass depended on the productivity of the grassland (Stein et al. 2008)
  • Insect herbivory decreased with increasing plant species richness (Unsicker et al. 2006)

For more information about the project


Coordinator: Wolfgang W. Weisser,
Ph.D.-students: Sybille Unsicker (completed 2006), Kerstin Wiesner, Juliane Heimann (nee Specht)
Alumni: Günther Köhler (scientist), Markus Wagner (postdoc), Alexandra Franzke (Diploma student), Janine Linz (student helper)

Stein, C., S. B. Unsicker, A. Kahmen, M. Wagner, V. Audorff, H. Auge, D. Prati, and W. W. Weisser. 2010. Impact of invertebrate herbivory in grasslands depends on plant species diversity. Ecology 91:1639-1650.

Unsicker, S. B., A. Franzke, J. Specht, G. Kohler, J. Linz, C. Renker, C. Stein, and W. W. Weisser. 2010. Plant species richness in montane grasslands affects the fitness of a generalist grasshopper species. Ecology 91:1083-1091.

Franzke, A., S. B. Unsicker, J. Specht, G. Kohler, and W. W. Weisser. 2010. Being a generalist herbivore in a diverse world: how do diets from different grasslands influence food plant selection and fitness of the grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus? Ecological Entomology 35:126-138.

Hempel, S., C. Stein, S. B. Unsicker, C. Renker, H. Auge, W. W. Weisser, and F. Buscot. 2009. Specific bottom-up effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi across a plant-herbivore-parasitoid system. Oecologia (Berlin) 160:267-277.

Unsicker, S. B., G. Kohler, J. Linz, C. Stein, and W. W. Weisser. 2008. Colour morph related performance in the meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus (Orthoptera, Acrididae). Ecological Entomology 33:631-637.

Stein, C., H. Auge, M. Fischer, W. W. Weisser, and D. Prati. 2008. Dispersal and seed limitation affect diversity and productivity of montane grasslands. Oikos 117:1469-1478.

Wagner, M., A. Kahmen, H. Schlumprecht, V. Audorff, J. Perner, N. Buchmann, and W. W. Weisser. 2007. Prediction of herbage yield in grassland: How well do Ellenberg N-values perform? Applied Vegetation Science 10:15-24.

Perner, J., C. Wytrykush, A. Kahmen, N. Buchmann, I. Egerer, S. Creutzburg, N. Odat, V. Audorff, and W. W. Weisser. 2005. Effects of plant diversity, plant productivity and habitat parameters on arthropod abundance in montane European grasslands. Ecography 28:429-442.

Kahmen, A., J. Perner, V. Audorff, W. W. Weisser, and N. Buchmann. 2005. Effects of plant diversity, community composition and environmental parameters on productivity in montane European grasslands. Oecologia 142:606-615.

Unsicker, S. B., C. Renker, A. Kahmen, S. Spindler, N. Buchmann, and W. W. Weisser. 2005. Testing the efficiency of three N-15-labeled nitrogen compounds for indirect labeling of grasshoppers via plants in the field. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 116:219-226.

See also List of Publications