The company G.Lanfranchi S.p.A. has contributed in the experiment by creating and providing zippers specifically for the construction of the mesocosms.
Plants account for 99 percent of all living matter on Earth. The knowledge of what are the factors that determine the richness and composition of plant communities is a fundamental starting point in understanding the functioning of ecosystems.
Our experiment aims to study the effect of the various communities of defoliating insects and pollinators on the composition of grassland plant communities.
To test this hypothesis will be manufactured 80 mesocosms (cages isolated by anti-insect net) that will constitute a unique community for herbaceous species composition and structure. Within these mesocosms, we will manage three functional groups of insects (defoliators, fitomizi and pollinators) by varying the specific abundance of species. At the end of the growing season for three consecutive years, we will evaluate the effect of the various communities of insects on the dynamics of vegetation measuring changes in abundance, demography and mortality of various plant species.
This experiment will contribute to a greater understanding of the mechanisms of interaction between the plant and invertebrate communities, improving our ability to predict the effects of environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.