Animal-Mediated Ecosystem Process Rates in Forests and Grasslands are Affected by Climatic Conditions and Land-Use Intensity

Didem Ambarlı, Nadja K. Simons, Katja Wehner, Wiebke Kämper, Martin M. Gossner, Thomas Nauss, Felix Neff, Sebastian Seibold, Wolfgang Weisser, Nico Blüthgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Decomposition, vegetation regeneration, and biological control are essential ecosystem functions, and animals are involved in the underlying processes, such as dung removal, seed removal, herbivory, and predation. Despite evidence for declines of animal diversity and abundance due to climate change and land-use intensification, we poorly understand how animal-mediated processes respond to these global change drivers. We experimentally measured rates of four ecosystem processes in 134 grassland and 149 forest plots in Germany and tested their response to climatic conditions and land-use intensity, that is, grazing, mowing, and fertilization in grasslands and the proportion of harvested wood, non-natural trees, and deadwood origin in forests. For both climate and land use, we distinguished between short-term effects during the survey period and medium-term effects during the preceding years. Forests had significantly higher process rates than grasslands. In grasslands, the climatic effects on the process rates were similar or stronger than land-use effects, except for predation; land-use intensity negatively affected several process rates. In forests, the land-use effects were more pronounced than the climatic effects on all processes except for predation. The proportion of non-natural trees had the greatest impact on the process rates in forests. The proportion of harvested wood had negative effects, whereas the proportion of anthropogenic deadwood had positive effects on some processes. The effects of climatic conditions and land-use intensity on process rates mirror climatic and habitat effects on animal abundance, activity, and resource quality. Our study demonstrates that land-use changes and interventions affecting climatic conditions will have substantial impacts on animal-mediated ecosystem processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-483
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Conifer plantations
  • Deadwood
  • Dung removal
  • Grazing
  • Herbivory
  • Mowing
  • Predation
  • Seed removal
  • Wood harvest


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