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Multi-trophic interactions in tropical forests and agro-forestry systems

Short title: Multi-trophic networks in tropical forests

Chairs: Finn Rehling, Heike Feldhaar

Contact: finn.rehling@nature.uni-freiburg.de

Tropical forests are known for their incredibly complex networks of species interactions. The interplay of trophic levels (e.g., herbivores, pollinators, dispersers, pathogens, decomposers, and predators) structures the composition and persistence of primary producers, and thus patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. However, non-random shifts in the structure and diversity of communities of different trophic levels due to anthropogenic pressures will cascade through interaction networks and the way these interactions affect ecosystem functioning. Although the underlying ecological theory is relatively well-developed, empirical research that comprehensively assesses the consequences of changes in biodiversity on ecological interactions, networks, and their functioning across trophic levels is lacking. This session aims to unite researchers studying interaction networks and their functioning at and across multiple trophic levels along diversity gradients. The scale of studies can encompass a wide range, from interactions among individuals to entire ecosystems, spanning from primary producers to apex predators, and occurring both below and above ground. Priority will be given to studies on multitrophic networks in tropical forests and agro-forestry systems.

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