Plant species loss decreases arthropod diversity and shifts trophic structure.


Plant diversity is predicted to be positively linked to the diversity of herbivores and predators in a foodweb. Yet, the relationship between plant and animal diversity is explained by a variety of competing hypotheses, with mixed empirical results for each hypothesis. We sampled arthropods for over a decade in an experiment that manipulated the number of grassland plant species. We found that herbivore and predator species richness were strongly, positively related to plant species richness, and that these relationships were caused by different mechanisms at herbivore and predator trophic levels. Even more dramatic was the threefold increase, from low- to high-plant species richness, in abundances of predatory and parasitoid arthropods relative to their herbivorous prey. Our results demonstrate that, over the long term, the loss of plant species propagates through food webs, greatly decreasing arthropod species richness, shifting a predator-dominated trophic structure to being herbivore dominated, and likely impacting ecosystem functioning and services.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01356.x

Extracted Key Phrases

5 Figures and Tables

Citations per Year

230 Citations

Semantic Scholar estimates that this publication has 230 citations based on the available data.

See our FAQ for additional information.

Cite this paper

@article{Haddad2009PlantSL, title={Plant species loss decreases arthropod diversity and shifts trophic structure.}, author={Nick M. Haddad and Gregory M. Crutsinger and Kevin Gross and John Haarstad and Johannes M. H. Knops and David Tilman}, journal={Ecology letters}, year={2009}, volume={12 10}, pages={1029-39} }