Responses of arthropods to plant diversity: changes after pollution cessation


  • Jörg Perner,

  • Winfried Voigt,

  • Rudolf Bährmann,

  • Wolfgang Heinrich,

  • Rolf Marstaller,

  • Bärbel Fabian,

  • Karsten Gregor,

  • Dorit Lichter,

  • Friedrich W. Sander,

  • T. Hefin Jones

J. Perner (, W. Voigt, R. Bährmann, W. Heinrich, R. Marstaller, B. Fabian, K. Gregor, D. Lichter and F. W. Sander, Inst. of Ecology, Univ. of Jena, Dornburger Str. 159, D-07743 Jena, Germany. – T. H. Jones, Biodiversity and Ecological Processes Research Group, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff Univ., P. O. Box 915, Cardiff, U.K. CF10 3TL.


Data collected from three different polluted sites in the vicinity of a phosphate fertilizer factory that was closed in 1990 are used to test with Mantel tests and smoothing techniques whether the rapid increase of plant species richness following cessation of pollution enhanced associated arthropod assemblage diversity. 132 plant species (between 1990 and 1999) and 66 413 individuals of 680 arthropod species (using sweep net sampling between 1990 and 1996) were recorded. Using top soil pH as a representative pollution parameter we detected an increase of plant species richness, effective diversity and evenness of plant community with decreasing pH both in space and time. While the richness of all studied functional groups of herbivores increased with plant species richness, only the richness of one carnivore functional group showed a similar pattern. Plant species richness was significantly correlated to the abundance patterns of two herbivore and two carnivore groups. But contrary to theoretical predictions consumer abundance tended to decrease with increasing plant diversity only between a plant species richness range of 10 to ca 35. Our results support the findings of previous studies that highlight how increased plant species and functional group richness may result in higher herbivore species richness, and that carnivore richness may be influenced by herbivore and detritivore richness. The functional group approach used in this study has enabled us to detected the very individual interaction patterns that occur between different groups within the same trophic level.