Robin Schmidt

Robin Schmidt



I am an experimental ecologist with a strong interest in conceptual issues of invasion biology and ecosystem functioning. During my Diploma thesis I studied the relationship between diversity and productivity in grassland ecosystems and the effect of gastropod herbivory on plant communities of native and exotic origin. I joined iDiv because it is a great opportunity for me to contribute to an interdisciplinary and international research committed to understand the way biodiversity affects all aspects of our lives.

Research Project


My current research project at the iDiv focus at mechanisms maintaining plant species diversity in grassland ecosystems in Central Germany, especially how food-web interactions between plants and their natural enemies, like pathogens and herbivores influences ecological functions. These interactions are assumed to be of particular importance for ecosystem responses to global environmental changes, as biological invasions and climate-driven shifts in species ranges will lead to novel communities and to mismatches between interacting species.

However, the importance of antagonistic interactions plant species coexistence has not been tested experimentally so far.

The central questions of the project are

  1. How is biodiversity generated and maintained in the face of global change?
  2. How does the complexity of food-web interactions influence ecological functions?
  3. Can we predict the functions of novel species communities?

Methods to be used

We will establish a field experiment in existing, species rich grassland vegetation to which we will add native and exotic plant species sown at different frequencies. To test the importance of antagonistic interactions for the maintenance of plant diversity we will exclude insects and pathogens by applying insecticides and fungicides. Complementary microcosm studies in the greenhouse to study trade-offs between a plan species competitive ability and defense mechanisms and molecular analyses to identify fungal species will contribute to provide basic information for future research how global changes impact the functioning of ecological communities.

Short CV


Since 09/2013
PhD student at iDiv

11/2006 - 07/2013
Diploma in Biology at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg
Diploma thesis: “The impact of exotic versus native plant species origin and gastropod herbivory on productivity of experimental grassland communities”



Schmidt, R., Auge, H., Deising, H. B., Hensen, I., Mangan, S. A., Schadler, M., Stein, C., Knight, T. M.

(2020): Abundance, origin, and phylogeny of plants do not predict community-level patterns of pathogen diversity and infection. Ecology and Evolution

Schmidt, R., Deising, H. B., Hensen, I., Schädler, M., Auge, H.

(2020): Natural enemies do not contribute to negative-frequency dependence in native and exotic grassland plants. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics

Rosche, C., I. Hensen, ..., S. Lachmuth, A. Erst, T. Tsunoda, M. Sheng, R. Schmidt et al.

(2019): Climate outweighs native vs. non‐native range‐effects for genetics and common garden performance of a cosmopolitan weed. Ecological Monographs

Korell, L., Schmidt, R., Bruelheide, H., Hensen, I., Auge, H.

(2015): Mechanisms driving diversity-productivity relationships differ between exotic and native communities and are affected by gastropod herbivory. Oecologia
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Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung – UFZ
Department Biozönoseforschung
Theodor-Lieser-Straße 4
06120 Halle/Saale

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+49 345 5585316
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Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung – UFZ

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