Trophic interactions in a changing world

W.H. van der Putten, P.C. de Ruiter, T.M. Bezemer, J.A. Harvey, M. Wassen, V. Wolters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Across the biosphere, rapid and accelerating changes in land use, climate and atmospheric composition driven primarily by anthropogenic forces are known to exert major influences on the productivity, biodiversity and sustainable provision of ecosystem goods and services. Thus far, many studies assessing the ecological consequences of global change have focussed on single trophic levels. However, understanding these changes and predicting their consequences may benefit from unravelling how interactions between primary producers, primary, and secondary consumers (plants, herbivores and carnivores) are being affected. Conservation and restoration may be improved when assessing species and their interactions on appropriate scales, while acknowledging that above- and belowground biota are ecologically linked. Selection pressures on one species may depend on others, so that species loss means more for diversity than just loss of a single taxon. It may also result in the loss of other species of the same or different trophic levels and in the dilution, or even loss, of various selection pressures. We review a number of discussions on trophic interactions in a changing world in relation to (i) the scale of ecosystem response to environmental change with emphasis on the soil subsystem, (ii) the linkage of above- and belowground subsystems and (iii) natural selection and the stability of community structure and ecosystem functioning. We discuss the need to bring together isolated sub-disciplines of ecology in order to understand the implications of global changes for ecosystem processes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-494
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • climate-change
  • insect herbivores
  • food webs
  • ecosystems
  • biodiversity
  • diversity
  • communities
  • extinction
  • hypothesis
  • landscape

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