Ecosystem consequences of invertebrate decline

Nico Eisenhauer* (Corresponding author), Raúl Ochoa-Hueso, Yuanyuan Huang, Kathryn E. Barry, Alban Gebler, Carlos A. Guerra, Jes Hines, Malte Jochum, Karl Andraczek, Solveig Franziska Bucher, François Buscot, Marcel Ciobanu, Hongmei Chen, Robert Junker, Markus Lange, Anika Lehmann, Matthias Rillig, Christine Römermann, Josephine Ulrich, Alexandra WeigeltAnja Schmidt, Manfred Türke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Human activities cause substantial changes in biodiversity.1,2 Despite ongoing concern about the implications of invertebrate decline,3,4,5,6,7 few empirical studies have examined the ecosystem consequences of invertebrate biomass loss. Here, we test the responses of six ecosystem services informed by 30 above- and belowground ecosystem variables to three levels of aboveground (i.e., vegetation associated) invertebrate community biomass (100%, 36%, and 0% of ambient biomass) in experimental grassland mesocosms in a controlled Ecotron facility. In line with recent reports on invertebrate biomass loss over the last decade, our 36% biomass treatment also represented a decrease in invertebrate abundance (−70%) and richness (−44%). Moreover, we simulated the pronounced change in invertebrate biomass and turnover in community composition across the season. We found that the loss of invertebrate biomass decreases ecosystem multifunctionality, including two critical ecosystem services, aboveground pest control and belowground decomposition, while harvested plant biomass increases, likely because less energy was channeled up the food chain. Moreover, communities and ecosystem functions become decoupled with a lower biomass of invertebrates. Our study shows that invertebrate loss threatens the integrity of grasslands by decoupling ecosystem processes and decreasing ecosystem-service supply.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4538-4547.e5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2023


  • decomposition
  • ecosystem coupling
  • ecosystem services
  • iDiv Ecotron
  • invertebrate decline
  • multifunctionality
  • pest control


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  • data from: Ecosystem consequences of invertebrate decline

    Eisenhauer, N. (Creator), Ochoa-Hueso, R. (Creator), Huang, Y. (Creator), Barry, K. E. (Creator), Gebler, A. (Creator), Guerra, C. A. (Creator), Hines, J. (Creator), Jochum, M. (Creator), Andraczek, K. (Creator), Bucher, S. F. (Creator), Buscot, F. (Creator), Ciobanu, M. (Creator), Chen, H. (Creator), Junker, R. R. (Creator), Lange, M. (Creator), Lehmann, A. (Creator), Rillig, M. C. (Creator), Römermann, C. (Creator), Ulrich, J. (Creator), Weigelt, A. (Creator), Schmidt, A. (Creator) & Türke, M. (Creator), German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, 02 Nov 2023


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