, Volume 176, Issue 2, pp 569–580 | Cite as

Insect attraction to herbivore-induced beech volatiles under different forest management regimes

  • Martin M. Gossner
  • Wolfgang W. Weisser
  • Jonathan Gershenzon
  • Sybille B. UnsickerEmail author
Ecosystem ecology - Original research


Insect herbivore enemies such as parasitoids and predators are important in controlling herbivore pests. From agricultural systems we know that land-use intensification can negatively impact biological control as an important ecosystem service. The aim of our study was to investigate the importance of management regime for natural enemy pressure and biological control possibilities in forests dominated by European beech. We hypothesize that the volatile blend released from herbivore-infested beech trees functions as a signal, attracting parasitoids and herbivore enemies. Furthermore, we hypothesize that forest management regime influences the composition of species attracted by these herbivore-induced beech volatiles. We installed flight-interception traps next to Lymantria dispar caterpillar-infested young beech trees releasing herbivore-induced volatiles and next to non-infested control trees. Significantly more parasitoids were captured next to caterpillar-infested trees compared to non-infested controls, irrespective of forest type. However, the composition of the trophic guilds in the traps did vary in response to forest management regime. While the proportion of chewing insects was highest in non-managed forests, the proportion of sucking insects peaked in forests with low management and of parasitoids in young, highly managed, forest stands. Neither the number of naturally occurring beech saplings nor herbivory levels in the proximity of our experiment affected the abundance and diversity of parasitoids caught. Our data show that herbivore-induced beech volatiles attract herbivore enemies under field conditions. They further suggest that differences in the structural complexity of forests as a consequence of management regime only play a minor role in parasitoid activity and thus in indirect tree defense.


Fagus sylvatica Indirect defense Lymantria dispar Parasitoid Predator 



We thank Sonja Gockel, Simone Pfeiffer, Markus Fischer, Elisabeth Kalko, Eduard Linsenmair, Dominik Hessenmöller, Jens Nieschulze, Daniel Prati, Ingo Schöning, François Buscot, and Ernst-Detlef Schulze for their role in setting up the Biodiversity Exploratories project. We are grateful to Matthias Gross, Norbert Leber, Maria Lorenz, Britt Farquharson and Rebecca Wagner for field assistance and C. van Achterberg (Leiden, the Netherlands), Wolfgang Adaschkiewitz (Jena), Eric Anton (Jena), Norman F. Johnson (Ohio), Ljubodrag Mihajlovic, Milka Glavendekic (Belgrad), Martin Schwarz (Linz), and Helmut Sebald (Munich) for species identification. We also thank Fanny Maunz and Franziska Unsicker for their help with building the flight-interception traps, and Agnes Fastnacht and the MPI-ICE greenhouse team. The work was funded by the DFG program 1374 Infrastructure-Biodiversity-Exploratories (WE 2618/9-1) and by the Max Planck Society. Fieldwork permits were issued by the responsible state environmental office of Thüringen. All experiments comply with current German law.

Supplementary material

442_2014_3025_MOESM1_ESM.docx (634 kb)
Supplementary material (DOCX 634 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin M. Gossner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wolfgang W. Weisser
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan Gershenzon
    • 3
  • Sybille B. Unsicker
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of EcologyFriedrich-Schiller-UniversityJenaGermany
  2. 2.Terrestrial Ecology Research Group, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem ManagementTechnische Universität MünchenFreising-WeihenstephanGermany
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany

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