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Under climate change, both wetter and drier conditions, as well as an increase in extreme events like floods or droughts are projected for many areas. So far, studies only investigate the impact of drier or wetter conditions at a single stress severity level but do not consider how different intensities and types of changes affect insect herbivores...
Under climate change, not only temperature, but also rainfall conditions are changing. For Central Europe, rainfall is predicted to become more variable, with longer dry spells, but also more extreme wet episodes. In this project (funded by the German Reserach Foundation-DFG), I investigate how changes in soil moisture conditions, ranging from very dry to waterlogged, affect biotic interactions, soil processes and above- and belowground (functional) diversity in grassland. I assess how plant-plant interactions might change along the stress gradient, how flower phenology, nectar quantity and quality and pollinator visitations are affected and whether herbivores amplify effects of hydrological condition and are in turn affected by changing soil moisture. I further quantify soil nutrients and mycorrhization rates. The results of this project will help in estimating potential consequences of climate change for grassland species, but will also answer basic questions on species niches or the role of competition and facilitation along stress gradients.