Dr Olga Ferlian

Olga Ferlian

Scientific career


Since 2014
Postdoc (MyDiv, ECOWORM) in the lab of Prof. Dr. Nico Eisenhauer, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany

2011 – 2014
PhD at the Georg August University Göttingen, Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Stefan Scheu, title: "Soil animal food webs in temperate forests: effects of forest management on trophic structure as indicated by molecular gut content, stable isotope and fatty acid analyses" (DFG Priority Program 1374 "Infrastructure-Biodiversity- Exploratories")

Diploma thesis at the Georg August University Göttingen, Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Stefan Scheu, title: “Analysing trophic interactions in centipedes (Chilopoda, Myriapoda) using fatty acid patterns: effects of life stage, forest type and season”

2005 – 2011
Study of biology at the Georg August University Göttingen, Germany

Research interests


My main research interests are trophic interactions in invertebrates within forest soil food webs and factors driving their variations. Investigating soil food webs and trophic interactions of soil animals poses a great challenge as the soil system is opaque. I use time-integrated indirect techniques, such as stable isotope and fatty acid analyses, to disentangle trophic structures in soil. Furthermore, I am interested in the role soil invertebrates play in different ecosystem functions and in consequences of their loss or introduction. In the ERC-funded project ECOWORM, we study the effects of exotic earthworm species on different ecosystem functions in North America. Being further postdoc and coordinator of a recently established tree diversity experiment, where in addition to tree diversity mycorrhizal types of tree communities were manipulated (MyDiv), my focus is further on the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship in trees and how arbuscular and ectomycorrhiza may drive them, especially within the belowground system. I am also interested in the role mycorrhizae play as food resource and how soil food web structure differs in tree communities with different mycorrhizal types.

Fields of work:

  • Utilisation of carbon resources by different soil predator and decomposer taxa
  • Trophic niches of coexisting soil animal species
  • Channeling of energy and nutrients through the soil food web
  • Earthworm invasions and ecology
  • Effects of earthworms on ecosystem functioning
  • Tree diversity experiments
  • Mycorrhiza


  • Fatty acid analyses in invertebrates (NLFAs) and soil (PLFAs)
  • 13C and 15N stable isotope analysis
  • 13C compound-specific stable isotope analysis
  • Soil animal extraction methods




37 Jochum, M., Ferlian, O., Thakur, M, Ciobanu, M., Klarner, B., Salamon, J.-A., Frelich, L., Johnson, E. & Eisenhauer, N. 2021. Earthworm invasion causes declines across soil fauna size classes and biodiversity facets in northern North American forests. Oikos, in press.

36 Bluhm, S.L., Eitzinger, B., Bluhm, C., Ferlian, O., Heidemann, K., Ciobanu, M., Maraun, M., Scheu, S. 2021. The impact of root-derived resources on forest soil invertebrates depends on body size and trophic position. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, in press.

35 Xu, S., Eisenhauer, N., Ferlian, O., Zhang, J., Zhou, G., Lu, X., ... & Zhang, D. 2020. Species richness promotes ecosystem carbon storage: evidence from biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiments. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 287(1939), 20202063.

34 Poeydebat, C., Jactel, H., Moreira, X., Koricheva, J., Barsoum, N., Bauhus, J., …, Ferlian, O. et al. 2020. Climate affects neighbour-induced changes in leaf chemical defences and tree diversity-herbivory relationships. Functional Ecology, in press.

33 Ferlian, O., Lintzel, E.-M., Bruelheide, H., Guerra, C.A., Heklau, H., Jurburg, S., Kühn, P., Martinez-Medina, A., Unsicker, S.B., Eisenhauer, N., Schädler, M., 2020. Nutrient status not secondary metabolites drives herbivory and pathogen infestation across differently mycorrhized tree monocultures and mixtures. Basic and Applied Ecology, in press.

32 Thakur, M.P., Künne, T., Unsicker, S.B., Biere, A., Ferlian, O., Pruschitzki, U., Thouvenot, L., Türke, M., Eisenhauer, N., 2020. Invasive earthworms reduce chemical defense and increase herbivory and pathogen infection in native trees. Journal of Ecology.

31 Phillips, H.R.P., Guerra, C.A., Bartz, M.L.C., Briones, M.J.I., Brown, G., Crowther, T.W., Ferlian, O. et al. 2020. Erratum for the Report “Global distribution of earthworm diversity” by HRP Phillips et al. Science 369, eabd9834.

30 Ferlian, O., Thakur, M.P., Castañeda González, A., San Emeterio, L.M., Marr, S., da Silva Rocha, B., Eisenhauer, N., 2020. Soil chemistry turned upside down: a meta‐analysis of invasive earthworm effects on soil chemical properties. Ecology 00:e02936.

29 Thakur, M.P., Phillips, H.R., Brose, U., De Vries, F.T., Lavelle, P., Loreau, M., ..., Ferlian, O., …., Wardle, D. A., 2019. Towards an integrative understanding of soil biodiversity. Biological Reviews 95, 350-364.

28 Phillips, H.R., Guerra, C.A., Bartz, M.L., Briones, M.J., Brown, G., Crowther, T.W., ..., Ferlian, O., … Orgiazzi, A., 1019. Global distribution of earthworm diversity. Science 366, 480-485.

27 Phillips, H.R.P., Guerra, C.A., Bartz, M.L.C., Briones, M.J.I., Brown, G., Ferlian, O. et al. 2019. Global distribution of earthworm diversity. bioRxiv, 587394.

26 Phillips, H.R.P., Beaumelle, L., Tyndall, K., Burton, V.J., Cameron, E.K., Eisenhauer, N., Ferlian, O., 2019. The effects of global change on soil faunal communities: a meta-analytic approach. Research Ideas and Outcomes 5 e36427.

25 Eisenhauer, N., Schielzeth, H., Barnes, A.D., Barry, K.E., Bonn, A., Brose, U., Bruelheide, H., Buchmann, N., Buscot, F., Ebeling, A., Ferlian, O., Freschet, G.T., Giling, D.P., Hättenschwiler, S., Hillebrand, H., Hines, J., Isbell, F., Koller-France, E., König-Ries, B., de Kroon, H., Meyer, S.T., Milcu, A., Müller, J., Nock, C.A., Petermann, J.S., Roscher, C., Scherber, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Schmid, B., Schnitzer, S.A., Schuldt, A., Tscharntke. T., Türke, M., van Dam, N.M., van der Plas, F., Vogel, A., Wagg, C., Wardle, D.A., Weigelt, A., Weisser, W.W., Wirth, C., Jochum, M., 2019. A multitrophic perspective on biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research. Advances in Ecological Research 61, 1.

24 Frelich, L.E., Blossey, B., Cameron, E.K., Dávalos, A., Eisenhauer, N., Fahey, F., Ferlian, O., Groffman, P.M., Larson, E., Loss, S.R., Maerz, J.C., Nuzzo, V., Yoo, K., Reich. P.B., 2019. Side-swiped: Ecological cascades emanating from earthworm invasion. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 17, 502-510. .

23 Bluhm, S. L., Eitzinger, B., Ferlian, O., Bluhm, C., Schröter, K., Pena, R., Maraun, M., Scheu, S., 2019. Deprivation of root-derived resources affects microbial biomass but not community structure in litter and soil. PLOS ONE 14, e0214233.

22 Cameron, E.K., Martins, I.S., Lavelle, P., Mathieu, J., Tedersoo, J., Bahram, M., Gottschall, F., Guerra, C.A., Hines, J., Patoine, G., Siebert, J., Winter, M., Cesarz, S., Ferlian, O., Kreft, H., Lovejoy, T.E., Montanarella, L., Orgiazzi, A., Pereira, H.M., Phillips, H.R.P., Settele, J., Wall, D.H., Eisenhauer, N., 2019. Global mismatches in aboveground and belowground biodiversity. Conservation Biology 33, 1187-1192.

21 Eisenhauer, N., Ferlian, O., Craven, D., Hines, J., Jochum, M., 2019. Ecosystem responses to exotic earthworm invasion in northern North American forests. Research Ideas and Outcomes 5, e34564.

20 Shao, Y., Zhang, W., Eisenhauer, N., Liu, T., Ferlian. O., Wang, X., Xiong, Y., Liang, C., Fu, S., 2019. Exotic earthworms maintain soil biodiversity by altering bottom-up effects of plants on the composition of soil microbial groups and nematode communities. Biology and Fertility of Soils 55, 213-227.

19 Giling, D.P., Beaumelle, L., Phillips, H.R.P., Cesarz, S., Eisenhauer, N., Ferlian, O., Gottschall, F., Guerra, C., Hines, J., Sendek, A., Siebert, J., Thakur, M.P., Barnes, A.D., 2018. A niche for ecosystem multifunctionality in global change research. Global Change Biology 25, 763-774.

18 Ferlian, O., Biere, A., Bonfante, P., Buscot, F., Eisenhauer, N., Fernandez, I., Hause, B., Herrmann, S., Krajinski-Barth, F., Meier, I.C., Pozo, M.J., Rasmann, S., Rillig, M.C., Tarkka, M.T., van Dam, N.M., Wagg, C., Martinez-Medina, A., 2018. Growing Research Networks on Mycorrhizae for Mutual Benefits, Trends in Plant Science 23, 975-984.

17 Cameron, E., Martins, I., Lavelle, P., Mathieu, J., Tedersoo, L., Gottschall, F., Guerra, C.A., Hines, J., Patoine, G., Siebert, J., Winter, M. Cesarz, S., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Ferlian, O., Fierer, N., Kreft, H., Lovejoy, T.E., Montanarella, L., Orgiazzi, A., Pereira, H.M., Phillips, H.R.P., Settele, J., Wall, D.H., Eisenhauer, N., 2018. Global gaps in soil biodiversity data. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1042–1043.

16 Ferlian, O., Cesarz, S., Craven, D., Hines, J., Barry, K.E., Bruelheide, H., Buscot, F., Haider, S., Heklau, H., Herrmann, S., Kühn, P., Pruschitzki, U., Schädler, M., Wagg, C., Weigelt, A., Wubet, T., Eisenhauer, N., 2018. Mycorrhiza in tree diversity–ecosystem function relationships: conceptual framework and experimental implementation. Ecosphere 9:e02226.

15 Paquette, A., Hector, A., Castagneyrol, B., Vanhellemont, M., Koricheva, J., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Verheyen, K.,….Ferlian, O.,… 2018. A million and more trees for science. Nature ecology & evolution 2, 763.

14 Djukic, I., Kepfer-Rojas, S., Kappel Schmidt, I., Steenberg Larsen, K., Beier, C., Berg, B., Verheyen, K., TeaComposition: … Eisenhauer, N., … , Ferlian, O., … 2018. Early stage litter decomposition across biomes. Science of the Total Environment, 628, 1369-1394.

13 Grossman, J. J., Vanhellemont, M., Barsoum, N., Bauhus, J., Bruelheide, H., Castagneyrol, B., Cavender-Bares, J., Eisenhauer, N., Ferlian, O., Gravel, D., et al., 2018. Synthesis and future research directions linking tree diversity to growth, survival, and damage in a global network of tree diversity experiments. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 152, 68-69.

12 Ferlian, O., Eisenhauer, N., Aguirrebengoa, M., Camara, M., Ramirez‐Rojas, I., Santos, F., Tanalgo, K., Thakur, M. P., 2018. Invasive earthworms erode soil biodiversity: A meta‐analysis. Journal of Animal Ecology 87, 162-172.

11 Ferlian, O., Wirth, C., Eisenhauer, N., 2017. Leaf and root C-to-N ratios are poor predictors of soil microbial biomass C and respiration across 32 tree species, Pedobiologia 65, 16-23.

10 Phillips, H.R.P., Cameron, E.K., Ferlian, O., Türke, M., Winter, M., Eisenhauer, N., 2017. Red list of a black box. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, 0103.

09 Birkhofer, K., Bylund, H., Dalin, P., Ferlian, O., Gagic, V., Hambäck, P.A., Klapwijk, M., Mestre, L., Roubinet, E., Schroeder, M., Stenberg, J.A., Porcel, M., Björkman, C., Jonsson, M., 2017. Methods to identify the prey of invertebrate predators in terrestrial field studies. Ecology and Evolution 7, 1942–1953.

08 Birkhofer, K., Gossner, M., Diekötter, T., Drees C., Ferlian, O., Maraun, M., Scheu, S., Weisser, W.W., Wolters, V., Wurst, S., Zaitsev, A.S., Smith, H.G., 2017. Land-use type and intensity differentially filter traits in above- and belowground arthropod communities. Journal of Animal Ecology 86, 511-520.

07 Eisenhauer, N., Barnes, A., Cesarz,. S., Craven, D., Ferlian, O., Gottschall, F., Hines, J., Sendek, A., Siebert, J., Thakur, M., Türke, M., 2016. Biodiversity–ecosystem function experiments reveal the mechanisms underlying the consequences of biodiversity change in real world ecosystems. Journal of Vegetation Science 27, 1061-1070.

06 Pollierer, M.M., Ferlian, O., Scheu, S., 2015. Temporal dynamics and variation with forest type of phospholipid fatty acids in litter and soil of temperate forests across regions. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 91, 248-257.

05 Ferlian, O., Klarner, B., Langeneckert, A.E., Scheu, S., 2015. Trophic niche differentiation and utilisation of food resources in collembolans based on complementary analyses of fatty acids and stable isotopes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 82, 28-35.

04 Ferlian, O., Cesarz, S., Marhan, S., Scheu, S., 2014. Carbon food resources of earthworms of different ecological groups as indicated by 13C compound-specific stable isotope analysis. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 77, 22-30.

03 Günther, B., Rall, B.C., Ferlian, O., Scheu, S. Eitzinger, B., 2014. Variations in prey choice of invertebrate soil predators with forest type as indicated by molecular gut content analysis. Oikos 123, 1192-1198.

02 Ferlian, O. and Scheu, S., 2014. Shifts in trophic interactions with forest type in soil generalist predators as indicated by complementary analyses of fatty acids and stable isotopes. Oikos 123, 1182-1191.

01 Ferlian, O., Scheu, S., Pollierer, M.M., 2012. Trophic interactions in centipedes (Chilopoda, Myriapoda) as indicated by fatty acid patterns: Variations with life stage, forest age and season. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 52, 33-42.

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