Matty P. Berg, Full Professor and Head Of The Section Animal Ecology

What spurs me on is the question what determines the diversity, composition, functioning and adaptation of soil fauna communities. I am especially interested in the interplay between species-specific traits and spatial scales in determining shifts in community composition under environmental stress. I study which functional traits underlay changes in species composition, from the micro-scale (m2) to the macro-scale (among biomes). I also study how changes in species composition (via response traits) affect important soil processes (via effect traits), such as litter decomposition.

My aim is to integrate ecological and evolutionary concepts into community ecology by using inter- and intraspecific variation in species traits, including tolerance traits (micro-scale) and dispersal traits (meta- to macro-scale), to understand the impact of environmental changes on local community composition and functioning. I am especially interested how adaptation in life history traits of ecosystem engineers impact ecosystem dynamics.

My research emphasizes a mechanistic approach, linking species functional traits to community composition and ecosystem functioning. I use a variety of study systems, including green beach, salt marsh, moist grasslands, savanna and sub-arctic tundra, as well as a variety of model organisms, including ecosystem engineers such as bioturbating earthworms, landhoppers and termites, and detritivores like Collembola and terrestrial Isopoda.

Selected Publications

Moretti M, Dias ATC, de Bell, F, Altermatt, F, Chown SL, Azcárate FM, Bell JR, Fournier B, Hedde M, Hortal J, Ibanez S, Öckninger E, Sousa JP, Ellers J, Berg MP (2017) Handbook of protocols for standardized measurement of terrestrial invertebrate functional traits. Functional Ecology. 31: 558-567.

Schrama M, van Boheemen LA, Olff H, Berg MP (2015) How the litter-feeding bioturbator Orchestia gammarellus promotes late successional salt marsh vegetation. Journal of Ecology. 103: 915-924.

Handa T, Aerts MAPA, Berendse F, Berg MP, Bruder A, Butenschoen O, Chauvet E, Gessner MO, Jabiol J, Makkonen M, McKie BG, Malmqvist B, Peeters ETHM, Scheu S, Schmid B, van Ruijven J, Vos VCA, Hättenschwiler S (2014) Consequences of biodiversity loss for litter decomposition at global scale. Nature. 509: 218-224.

Makkonen M., Berg MP, Handa IT, Hättenschwiler S, van Ruijven J, van Bodegom PM, Aerts MAPA (2012) Highly consistent effects of plant litter identity and functional traits on decomposition across a latitudinal gradient. Ecology Letters. 15: 1033-1041.

Bokhorst S, Phoenix GK, Bjerke JW, Callaghan TV, Huyer-Brugman F, Berg MP (2012) Extreme winter warming events more negatively impact small rather than large soil fauna: shift in community composition explained by traits not taxa. Global Change Biology. 18: 1152-1162.

Link to full publication list in PURE

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