Changes in plant-herbivore network structure and robustness along land-use intensity gradients in grasslands and forests

Neff, Felix
Braendle, Martin
Ambarlı, Didem
Ammer, Christian
Bauhus, Juergen
Boch, Steffen
Hoelzel, Norbert
Klaus, Valentin H.
Kleinebecker, Till
Prati, Daniel
Schall, Peter
Schaefer, Deborah
Schulze, Ernst-Detlef
Seibold, Sebastian
Simons, Nadja K.
Weisser, Wolfgang W.
Pellissier, Loic
Gossner, Martin M.
Land-use intensification poses major threats to biodiversity, such as to insect herbivore communities. The stability of these communities depends on interactions linking herbivores and host plants. How interaction network structure begets robustness, and thus stability, in different ecosystems and how network structure and robustness are altered along land-use intensity gradients are unclear. We analyzed plant-herbivore networks based on literature-derived interactions and long-term sampling from 289 grasslands and forests in three regions of Germany. Network size and nestedness were the most important determinants of network robustness in both ecosystems. Along land-use intensity gradients, networks in moderately grazed grasslands were more robust than in those managed by frequent mowing or fertilization. In forests, changes of network robustness along land-use intensity gradients relied on changes in plant species richness. Our results expand our knowledge of the stability of plant-herbivore networks and indicate options for management aimed at stabilizing herbivore communities.


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Citation Formats
F. Neff et al., “Changes in plant-herbivore network structure and robustness along land-use intensity gradients in grasslands and forests,” SCIENCE ADVANCES, vol. 7, no. 20, pp. 0–0, 2021, Accessed: 00, 2022. [Online]. Available: