View More View Less
  • 1 Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali Sezione di Zoologia degli Invertebrati e Idrobiologia Via Calepina 14 I-38122 Trento Italy
  • | 2 Università degli Studi di Milano Dipartimento di Biologia, Sezione di Botanica Sistematica Via Celoria 26 I-20133 Milano Italy
  • | 3 Università degli Studi dell’Insubria Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e Funzionale Via Dunant 3 I-21100 Varese Italy
  • | 4 Università degli Studi di Milano Dipartimento di Biologia, Sezione di Zoologia e Citologia Via Celoria 26 I-20133 Milano Italy
Restricted access

Little is known of how changes in plant function may influence adaptive traits amongst animals further up the food chain. We addressed the hypothesis that shifts in plant functional traits are associated with the adaptive function of animal species which have an indirect trophic link. We compared community characteristics and functional traits of two trophically detached biotic groups (vascular plants and carabid beetles) along a primary succession on terrain at the Cedec glacier in the Alps, where deglaciation events following post-Little Ice Age climate warmings are marked by moraine ridges. Morphofunctional traits were recorded: canopy height (CH), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf dry weight (LDW) and specific leaf area (SLA) (for plants) and the number of brachypterous, autumn-breeding and predator species, and average body length (for carabid beetles). We found that vegetation cover and plant species richness gradually increased throughout early succession, with an abrupt increase between 40 and 150 years after deglaciation. At the early stages of the succession plant traits were typical of ruderal species (high SLA, low CH, LDW) whilst a shift in traits towards stress-tolerance (low SLA) occurred >150 years. Carabid communities and traits changed alongside changes in plant species richness and cover, with late successional vegetation hosting larger, more diverse, less mobile carabid species with longer larval development. Thus, ruderal plant strategies are the main contributors during vegetation development, determining vegetation quantity, and probably have the greatest impact on changes in carabid assemblages by regulating resource availability. Plants then require greater stress-tolerance to survive in stable vegetation, which supports high carabid diversity. This suggests that different plant strategies may affect ground beetle communities via contrasting mechanisms: both quantities (biomass, species richness) and qualities (functional traits, adaptive strategies) should be taken into account during studies of plant-animal interactions within ecosystems.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Material

Click HERE for submission guidelines.

Manuscript submission: COMEC Manuscript Submission


Senior editors

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Podani, János

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jordán, Ferenc

Honorary Editor(s): Orlóci, László

Editorial Board

  • Madhur Anand, CAN (forest ecology, computational ecology, and ecological complexity)
  • S. Bagella, ITA (temporal dynamics, including succession, community level patterns of species richness and diversity, experimental studies of plant, animal and microbial communities, plant communities of the Mediterranean)
  • P. Batáry, HUN (landscape ecology, agroecology, ecosystem services)
  • P. A. V. Borges, PRT (community level patterns of species richness and diversity, sampling in theory and practice)
  • A. Davis, GER (supervised learning, multitrophic interactions, food webs, multivariate analysis, ecological statistics, experimental design, fractals, parasitoids, species diversity, community assembly, ticks, biodiversity, climate change, biological networks, cranes, olfactometry, evolution)
  • Z. Elek, HUN (insect ecology, invertebrate conservation, population dynamics, especially of long-term field studies, insect sampling)
  • T. Kalapos, HUN (community level plant ecophysiology, grassland ecology, vegetation-soil relationship)
  • G. M. Kovács, HUN (microbial ecology, plant-fungus interactions, mycorrhizas)
  • W. C. Liu,TWN (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, temporal dynamics, including succession, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment)
  • L. Mucina, AUS (vegetation survey, syntaxonomy, evolutionary community ecology, assembly rules, global vegetation patterns, mediterranean ecology)
  • P. Ódor, HUN (plant communities, bryophyte ecology, numerical methods)
  • F. Rigal, FRA (island biogeography, macroecology, functional diversity, arthropod ecology)
  • D. Rocchini, ITA (biodiversity, multiple scales, spatial scales, species distribution, spatial ecology, remote sensing, ecological informatics, computational ecology)
  • F. Samu, HUN (landscape ecology, biological control, generalist predators, spiders, arthropods, conservation biology, sampling methods)
  • U. Scharler, ZAF (ecological networks, food webs, estuaries, marine, mangroves, stoichiometry, temperate, subtropical)
  • D. Schmera, HUN (aquatic communities, functional diversity, ecological theory)
  • M. Scotti, GER (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment, ecological networks)
  • B. Tóthmérész, HUN (biodiversity, soil zoology, spatial models, macroecology, ecological modeling)
  • S. Wollrab, GER (aquatic ecology, food web dynamics, plankton ecology, predator-prey interactions)


Advisory Board

  • S. Bartha, HUN
  • S.L. Collins, USA
  • T. Czárán, HUN
  • E. Feoli, ITA
  • N. Kenkel, CAN
  • J. Lepš, CZE
  • S. Mazzoleni, ITA
  • Cs. Moskát, HUN
  • B. Oborny, HUN
  • M.W. Palmer, USA
  • G.P. Patil, USA
  • V. de Patta Pillar, BRA
  • C. Ricotta, ITA
  • Á. Szentesi, HUN



Indexing and Abstracting Services:

  • Biological Abstracts
  • BIOSIS Previews
  • CAB Abstracts
  • Biology & Environmental Sciences
  • Elsevier/Geo Abstracts
  • Science Citation Index Expanded
  • Zoological Abstracts



Community Ecology
Language English
Size A4
Year of
per Year
per Year
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland Gewerbestrasse 11.
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)