Interactions between spatially separated herbivores indirectly alter plant diversity

J. van Ruijven, G.B. de Deyn, C.E. Raaijmakers, F. Berendse, W.H. van der Putten

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Above- and belowground herbivores promote plant diversity when selectively feeding on dominant plant species, but little is known about their combined effects. Using a model system, we show that neutral effects of an aboveground herbivore and positive effects of a belowground herbivore on plant diversity became profoundly negative when adding these herbivores in combination. The non-additive effects were explained by differences in plant preference between the aboveground- and the belowground herbivores and their consequences for indirect interactions among plant species. Simultaneous exposure to aboveground- and belowground herbivores led to plant communities being dominated by a few highly abundant species. As above- and belowground invertebrate herbivores generally differ in their mobility and local distribution patterns, our results strongly suggest that aboveground-belowground interactions contribute to local spatial heterogeneity of diversity patterns within plant communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-37
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • below-ground biota
  • grassland ecosystems
  • insect herbivory
  • succession
  • productivity
  • biodiversity
  • nematodes
  • pathogens
  • linkages
  • mosaics


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