Interannual variation in land-use intensity enhances grassland multidiversity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although temporal heterogeneity is a well-accepted driver of biodiversity, effects of interannual variation in land-use intensity (LUI) have not been addressed yet. Additionally, responses to land use can differ greatly among different organisms; therefore, overall effects of land-use on total local biodiversity are hardly known. To test for effects of LUI (quantified as the combined intensity of fertilization, grazing, and mowing) and interannual variation in LUI (SD in LUI across time), we introduce a unique measure of whole-ecosystem biodiversity, multidiversity. This synthesizes individual diversity measures across up to 49 taxonomic groups of plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria from 150 grasslands. Multidiversity declined with increasing LUI among grasslands, particularly for rarer species and aboveground organisms, whereas common species and belowground groups were less sensitive. However, a high level of interannual variation in LUI increased overall multidiversity at low LUI and was even more beneficial for rarer species because it slowed the rate at which the multidiversity of rare species declined with increasing LUI. In more intensively managed grasslands, the diversity of rarer species was, on average, 18% of the maximum diversity across all grasslands when LUI was static over time but increased to 31% of the maximum when LUI changed maximally over time. In addition to decreasing overall LUI, we suggest varying LUI across years as a complementary strategy to promote biodiversity conservation.


  • Eric Allan
  • Oliver Bossdorf
  • Carsten F. Dormann
  • Daniel Prati
  • Martin M. Gossner
  • Teja Tscharntke
  • Nico Bluethgen
  • Michaela Bellach
  • Steffen Boch
  • Stefan Boehm
  • Carmen Boerschig
  • Antonis Chatzinotas
  • Sabina Christ
  • Rolf Daniel
  • Tim Diekoetter
  • Christiane Fischer
  • Thomas Friedl
  • Karin Glaser
  • Christine Hallmann
  • Ladislav Hodac
  • Norbert Hoelzel
  • Kirsten Jung
  • Alexandra Maria Klein
  • Valentin H. Klaus
  • Till Kleinebecker
  • Jochen Krauss
  • Markus Lange
  • E. Kathryn Morris
  • Joerg Mueller
  • Heiko Nacke
  • Esther Pasalic
  • Matthias C. Rillig
  • Christoph Rothenwoehrer
  • Peter Schally
  • Christoph Scherber
  • Waltraud Schulze
  • Stephanie A. Socher
  • Juliane Steckel
  • Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
  • Manfred Tuerke
  • Christiane N. Weiner
  • Michael Werner
  • Catrin Westphal
  • Volkmar Wolters
  • Tesfaye Wubet
  • Sonja Gockel
  • Martin Gorke
  • Andreas Hemp
  • Swen C. Renner
  • Ingo Schoening
  • Simone Pfeiffer
  • Birgitta Koenig-Ries
  • Francois Buscot
  • Karl Eduard Linsenmair
  • Ernst-Detlef Schulze
  • Wolfgang W. Weisser
  • Markus Fischer
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • agricultural grasslands, biodiversity loss, Biodiversity Exploratories
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-313
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch