Are insects key drivers of change in woodland systems under climate change?

Crowley, Liam Michael ORCID: 0000-0001-6380-0329 (2021). Are insects key drivers of change in woodland systems under climate change? University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Mean concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO\(_2\)) continue to increase globally. Whilst the impact of this on plant biochemistry, physiology and ecology has been well documented, the impact on biodiversity is less certain. Forest ecosystems are globally important habitats in terms of carbon sequestration, water cycling and housing biodiversity. Arthropods are the most diverse groups of organisms within forests and underpin key ecosystem processes such as herbivory, pollination and nutrient cycling. It remains unclear how elevated CO\(_2\) (eCO\(_2\)) will affect forest arthropods, and what consequences this will feedback to the ecosystem. The new Birmingham Institute of Forest Research Free Air Carbon Enrichment experiment represents a unique opportunity to test the impact of eCO\(_2\) on forest arthropods for the first time in a mature, temperate forest. Three years of sampling from forest floor to canopy has provided a characterisation of the arthropod fauna of the site. Herbivory by leaf mining Lepidoptera decreased under eCO\(_2\), whereas the abundance of aphids increased. The flowering time of bluebells advanced by 6 days under fumigation which is likely to affect its pollinators. Whilst there were no clear effects of eCO\(_2\) on overall arthropod abundance, longer-term monitoring may be necessary to detect trends as they develop.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Biosciences
Funders: Other
Other Funders: University of Birmingham
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology


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